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NHL to end coach and executive compensation policy

by Dan Rosen

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Draft-pick compensation for the hiring of coaches and executives from other teams will be eliminated, effective Jan. 1, Commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday following the completion of the Board of Governors meeting.

The original policy was put into effect Jan. 1, 2015, in part to allow for compensation for coaches and executives under contract who departed for a position with another team. But it morphed to include coaches and executives who had been fired but remained under contract.

Now the League will return to the previous policy, which requires teams to grant permission to its coaches and executives under contract to interview with other teams. If permission is granted and the coach or executive changes teams, there will no longer be any compensation to the team losing personnel.

"On balance, it just wasn't worth the debate, the confusion, the uncertainty that flowed from it," Commissioner Bettman said. "Frankly, I thought the old policy worked very well. I think you remember from the GM Meeting [November 2014], one of the caveats that I put into place when I agreed to implement the revised policy was that if there are any problems with this we will scrap it and go back to what we had. That ultimately happened. We deferred to the will of the GMs for a year, we tried it, and I think we were better off with the policy we had."

Commissioner Bettman said the Board agreed fully with reverting to the previous policy.

"I asked if there was any discussion or comment before I announced that that was the decision I was going to make, and there was none," Commissioner Bettman said. "So overwhelmingly, I think people, having heard the presentation and seen the experience over the past year, decided what we had that worked well for 10 years roughly was probably the best way to go."

There was discussion about modifying the policy to prohibit teams from receiving compensation for fired coaches and executives, but the League felt fired coaches and executives would have to be included if the newer policy were to remain in effect.

"What we had worked very well for 10 years," Commissioner Bettman said. "There was a sentiment by some of the managers that we should do something different. I resisted it for a while, and then, perhaps against my better judgment, I deferred to them to try it. But again, when I discussed this with the Executive Committee they were all in agreement that going back to what we had was the correct thing."

The policy in place this year allowed the Vancouver Canucks to secure a second-round draft pick when coach John Tortorella was hired by the Columbus Blue Jackets on Oct. 21. Tortorella hadn't coached for the Canucks since the end of the 2013-14 season, but he was still under contract. The Toronto Maple Leafs had to sacrifice third-round draft picks to the Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils for hiring coach Mike Babcock in May and general manager Lou Lamoriello in September.

The Pittsburgh Penguins received a draft pick from the Buffalo Sabres when they hired Dan Bylsma, who was fired by the Penguins following the 2013-14 season. They also got one from the Devils for hiring coach John Hynes, who was coaching Pittsburgh's affiliate in the American Hockey League.

The San Jose Sharks got a draft pick from the Edmonton Oilers when they hired coach Todd McLellan. The Boston Bruins also got a pick from the Oilers for hiring general manager Peter Chiarelli.

On two occasions, the compensation proviso was waived. Coach Peter DeBoer was hired without compensation by the Sharks after being fired by the Devils last season. GM Ray Shero, fired after the 2013-14 season by the Penguins, went to New Jersey this summer without compensation.

"I think it was pretty clear all the reasons supporting why it's been eliminated," Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said. "It's unfortunate for us the year in which they tried it out was a year in which we were seeking [a coach and GM], but I can't complain and look back. If we had to do it all over again we would still go out and do it if we were acquiring somebody like Mike and Lou. At the end of the day there are certain things you can control and other things you can't, so I support their decision today to take it away."

Brian Burke, the Calgary Flames president of hockey operations, was a supporter of the compensation policy until he heard the presentation from Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly on Tuesday.

"What we were trying to do was provide an orderly way for young management people or coaches to be allowed to progress and move up the ladder, but a team that had skill at identifying young people would be compensated for it," Burke said. "It was never envisioned it would apply to terminated employees. The League applied it in that manner and they presented today, I think, some compelling ideas for eliminating it and they eliminated it.

"Once it was explained why they recommended that it would be eliminated, there was no opposition to it."


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