Board of Governors OK's Leafs sale, 2 rules changes
LAS VEGAS -- The National Hockey League's Board of Governors met at the Wynn Las Vegas for more than five hours Tuesday. The result was two formal announcements and a whole lot of discussion on various other topics.
The Board unanimously approved the sale by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board of its ownership interest in Toronto Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. to an entity comprised of Rogers Communications Inc. and BCE Inc., subject to agreement on satisfactory terms of League consent. The Board also approved a subsequent restructuring of the ownership of MLSE.
In addition, the Board approved changes to Rules 67 (handling the puck) and 76 (faceoffs). A two-minute minor penalty element was added to both rules.
For Rule 67, a penalty now will be issued any time a player places his hand over the puck while it is on the ice in order to conceal it from an opponent or prevent an opponent from playing the puck. For Rule 76, a delay of game penalty now will be issued to any player taking a faceoff who uses his hand to direct the puck in any direction.
Aside from the sale of the Leafs and the two rule changes, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman updated the Board on several economic issues, including possible projections for the 2012-13 salary cap. The NHL has to agree jointly with the National Hockey League Players' Association on a final cap number and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that will be done before the free-agent market opens July 1.
Bettman said there was nothing new to update on the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes to prospective owner Greg Jamison, who is still working with the city of Glendale, Ariz., to secure a lease agreement.
While League business was at the forefront of this meeting, several general managers in attendance at the meetings also spoke to the media about their expectations and goals for the next two weeks, starting with the NHL Draft this weekend in Pittsburgh and continuing into the following weekend when the free-agent market opens.
Nashville GM David Poile reiterated that he expects All-Star defenseman Ryan Suter to test the free-agent market on July 1, but that doesn't mean the Predators are out of the running for Suter, who will be the most sought after unrestricted defenseman available.
"From my part it's trying to keep the faith, be loyal, be available if there are any questions that need to be answered, and to stay consistent," Poile said. "He has been a big part of our team. The fact that we have him and Shea Weber -- like I said to Ryan many times, forget about negotiations for a second, we use that phrase 'priceless,' and these guys playing together for the next seven to 10 years could go down as the best defense pairing ever in the National Hockey League. I have to believe that weighs into it."
Poile added that he will not trade Suter's rights unless Suter came to him and said he had no interest in returning to Nashville.
"But in all the conversations we've had he's made it very clear that he has nothing against Nashville," Poile said. "He likes everything we have to offer, but he's gone this far and the longer we talk it appears that he's going to take a look at July 1."
Toronto general manager Brian Burke said he will likely have to address the Leafs' needs through the trade market because fewer and fewer players are making it to July 1 as unrestricted free agents. The problem, he added, is all is quiet on the trade front right now.
"I think it's like the ice in the lake; one big piece goes out and then other stuff starts to move," Burke said. "Right now it's slow. I think everyone is waiting for that first trade."
"I think it's like the ice in the lake; one big piece goes out and then other stuff starts to move. Right now it's slow. I think everyone is waiting for that first trade." -- Toronto GM Brian Burke
Burke added that he hasn't had any discussions with Edmonton regarding trading up for the No. 1 pick in the draft.
"I have no sense from Edmonton that that pick is in play," Burke said. "I can tell you that. If someone is actively trying to get that pick it's not us."
Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said nothing has changed in regards to potential unrestricted free agents Zach Parise and Martin Brodeur. The Devils want both to return, and Lamoriello said his focus is solely on getting most of his 11 potential unrestricted free agents re-signed.
"I think right now our priority is our own players," Lamoriello said.
Both Parise and Brodeur said last week that they want to re-sign with the Devils, but Parise has to weigh what kind of offer he might be able to get if he hits the market and Brodeur is still figuring out if he wants to play another season. If Brodeur does want to play, all indications are that it will be with the Devils.
Brodeur said last week that he will let the Devils know his decision prior to July 1.
"I think he wants to play," Lamoriello said. "We'll sit down with Marty and he'll make whatever decision is best. But, I feel he wants to play."