Insider Trading

For a moment can we forget about the All-Star Game, John Scott’s pregnant wife and the NHL’s complete lack of a sense of humor?

Amid all the conspiracy talk surrounding a distinctly  weird-looking trade between the Canadiens, Coyotes and Predators, one element has been conspicuously absent: Namely, that the NHL might have tampered with the rosters of individual member teams.

The word “integrity” always sounds ridiculous when mentioned in conjunction with the All-Star Game, but in this case it is very much in play. Integrity, as in the one thing that keeps competitive sports from becoming professional wrestling. Nobody is suggesting that the NHL directly fixed games, but no less an authority than Bob McKenzie said this on a radio spot (as transcribed by Chris Nichols):

“I think he feels like there’s no question in his mind – and really, it strains the level of credulity to think otherwise – his inclusion in this trade, in my mind, was absolutely orchestrated to solve the All-Star issue for the league.”

This quote was widely circulated and then, inexplicably, widely ignored except as it relates to Scott and the All-Star Game. Maybe McKenzie was just spouting off, but that’s not really his style. He’s arguably the most trusted journalist covering the NHL, and he just said he believes the league meddled in the personnel decisions of its member teams for the absolutely pettiest of reasons.

Plenty has been said, written, tweeted and generally shouted at the clouds about Scott’s plight, and rightly so, but if the NHL orchestrated any part of this then that’s outright corruption of the on-ice product. It’s as bad as if the league fixed the draft lottery or instructed its referees to favor certain teams over others. Yes, this was a relatively minor trade, but once the NHL demonstrates a willingness to sacrifice competitive fairness at any level, its credibility is shot at all levels.

McKenzie might have been wrong, and I certainly hope that’s the case, but his comment makes a chilling amount of sense. I would love to hear more from him on this issue – really, I’d love to hear more from any of the legion of journalists who cover the NHL on this issue – but it seems they either didn’t notice, don’t care, or actively want to protect the league. None of those options are at all acceptable.



4 thoughts on “Insider Trading

  1. It is funny that you talked about fixing the draft lottery, and tampering with the product. While I can not say that is the case for hockey, others have said much the same thing about other professional sports. I read one book “The Fix Is In” by Brian Tuohy which claims that this is pretty close to the truth for a lot of professional sports. I can’t say that I believed everything, but I do wonder, openly and often aloud, how some things are allowed to happen based on better TV revenues….. I will be watching Hockey Night in Canada tonight to see if any mention is made of this by its “journalists”.

  2. So, very little to add from Cox and Friedman. Don Cherry, however, decided to blame the fans for voting him in, as a big F you to the NHL, and causing a trade and causing upheaval to the families involved.
    Well, I look at it a bit differently. If anyone is to blame, it is Bettman for opening it up to a fan vote. Regardless of what the fans message is (and I am not sure what it is, other than proof that social media can mess with everything) the fans wishes are that he play in the game. A vote is a vote. You accepted the premise, then you have to accept the results.
    In reality, the all-star game doesn’t really have a lot of relevance anyway. It isn’t as if I can’t watch all of these players and the all star game is the only way I would be able to see them. The 3 on 3 concept sounds interesting but…. I really only find the skills competition interesting; and I don’t think it is done as well or as seriously as it should be.

    • Thanks for the update, since I’m in the US and don’t see HNIC. At this point it no longer matters to me who caused what problem – what matters is that it appears the NHL solved its problem by tampering with individual teams’ rosters.

      • They tamper with rosters, they tamper with trades and they tamper with player movement to the minors. They tamper with franchises and they tamper with TV ratings. They’ve learned from the other Pro leagues.

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