NHL Notebook: League to decentralize draft, Senators forward Shane Pinto suspended 41 games

Cam Lewis
6 months ago
The NHL draft will no longer be a public event.
The league’s 32 clubs voted overwhelmingly to decentralize the draft and instead move forward with a format in which front office executives will remain in their team’s war room to execute their draft functions.
Ballots were cast on Tuesday and more than 80 percent of teams voted in favour of changing the draft. Discussions on moving forward will occur at the General Manager meetings in November and the Board of Governors meetings in December.
“We are still in the planning/negotiation stages for the 2024 NHL Draft and will determine shortly which format we will use for the 2024 Draft,” a memo sent to teams from the league stated.
Hosting the draft in a city for the entire league, media, and fans to gather in one spot has been an NHL tradition for years. The first-ever draft was held in Montreal in 1963, it stayed there until 1984, and has since rotated through different cities as an event for the home club’s fans. The Oilers hosted the draft in 1995 at Northlands Coliseum.
The draft being a virtual experience in which front offices operate remotely is standard practice in the other leagues, though. Frank Seravalli wrote for Daily Faceoff about why executives are in favour of having a decentralized draft experience back in the summer.
Greenberg was but a few weeks on the job last June when he noticed the first stark difference between processes in baseball and hockey while attending the NHL Draft in Montreal.
He’d watched many drafts before as a hockey fan, but said it was still surreal to experience one firsthand on the floor – particularly how all 32 franchises are seated a mere feet apart from each other.
“You can’t even make a phone call without everyone knowing what you’re up to or who you’re talking to,” Greenberg said.
That’s part of the reason why the Blackhawks devised a plan last year to nail down a deal for Alex DeBrincat before leaving their team hotel ahead of Round 1.
“I didn’t want to take anything to the floor,” Davidson said. “If we were going to get it done, we were going to get it done. What was another two hours going to do? For some of these teams, we’d talked for three months.”
There have also been complaints about the time and energy spent on sending an entire staff to the draft in a given city and then returning home to immediately prepare to execute free agent frenzy, which falls a few days later. The league hasn’t expressed any interest in altering the calendar so that the draft and the beginning of free agency are further apart.

Ottawa Senators forward Shane Pinto suspended 41 games for sports betting-related activity

The NHL announced on Thursday that Shane Pinto had been issued a 41-game suspension for activities related to sports gambling.
In a statement, the NHL said the league’s “investigation found no evidence that Pinto made any wagers on NHL games.” The NHL also said it now considers the matter closed, and absent new information, will have no further comment on the situation.
Pinto is the league’s last remaining restricted free agent, as he and the Ottawa Senators didn’t agree to a contract during the off-season and he remained unsigned. The second-round pick from the 2019 draft scored 20 goals and 35 points in his first full season in the NHL in 2022-23.
According to Frank Seravalli, the Sens and Pinto were close to a contract worth $2.2 million in recent weeks but negotiations stopped when they became aware that the league was investigating the player. The NHL Players’ Association won’t be appealing the suspension, which was negotiated by the NHLPA, the league, and the Senators.
The Sens released a statement that included an apology from Pinto to the league and the fans. “I take full responsibility for my actions and look forward to getting back on the ice with my team,” he said in the statement. The team also supported Pinto in the statement and said that he’ll be welcome back on the team when his suspension is finished.
“While saddened to learn of this issue, the entire organization remains committed to Shane and will work together to do what is necessary to help provide the support to allow him to address his issues and become a strong contributor to our community.
“When the time is right and with the league’s blessing, we will welcome him back to the organization and embrace him as one of our own.”
The 41-game suspension given to Pinto is among the longest in league history, behind only lifetime bans to Billy Coutu, Don Gallinger, Billy Taylor, and Babe Pratt. It matches the 41-game suspension that Raffi Torres received in 2015 for throwing a predatory hit despite having previously being handed supplemental discipline a whopping nine times by that point in his career.
Naturally, there’s an irony that all of the articles written about a player being suspended for betting on sports will feature advertisements suggesting people bet on sports themselves. Other leagues have had issues with players and gambling and Pinto’s story surely won’t be the last in the NHL when it comes to players getting involved in something that’s become an omnipresent aspect of the sport.

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