As expected, the NHL’s Board of Governors on Tuesday voted to do away with the controversial executive compensation rule.
“It wasn’t a policy that was free from issues,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said.
And he was right. The rule, which required teams that were hiring certain personnel from other clubs to compensate them with a draft pick, was crafted with the best of intentions. It recognized those executives, men like assistant general managers for example, as assets that had been groomed much the way a team might develop a young player and, as such, they should be treated similarly.
Ideally, the rule would have been applied in cases such as Dallas’s 2013 hiring of Red Wings assistant GM Jim Nill. Instead, it came into play when teams tried to hire a fired coach, such as John Tortorella (above), or an axed GM like Peter Chiarelli. Although both remained under contract and were technically employed by Vancouver and Boston, respectively, asking for compensation in those cases went against the spirit of the rule.
Clearly, it needed a change. But scrubbing it completely? That, as they say, is throwing the baby out with the bath water.
Bettman said he was not inclined to modify the ruling, which is too bad because there was a sensible middle ground to be found here: Eliminate compensation for fired executives and coaches who are still under contract, but keep it in place for those would would perform similar or upgraded duties for a new employer.
Instead the compensation option will come off the books as of January 1. But you can bet you’ll hear someone argue that it should be brought back the next time a team hires away someone like assistant GMs Julien BriseBois of the Lightning and Paul Fenton of the Predators, or Mike Futa, the Kings’ hockey operations VP and player personnel director.