NHL does away with coach, executive compensation policy

NHL does away with coach, executive compensation policy

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The NHL decided to do away with compensation for coaches and managers hired by others teams. The decision was announced after the second day of the League’s Board of Governors meeting.

Executive compensation had become a hot button topic in recent months. Teams who hired execs and coaches, long after they had been fired by other teams, had to compensate the former team with draft picks because they were still technically under contract. The reversion to the former policy will go into effect on Jan. 1. The current policy started on Jan. 1, 2015.

“You either give permission to negotiate, and if the two parties actually make a deal then the executive is free to go. But there is no compensation. If you don't want to give permission to somebody who is under contract, whether or not they're employed but they are being paid and still under contract, is the club's decision,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said.

“Based on some of the questions I got yesterday afternoon, 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. So, overwhelmingly I think people, having heard the presentation and seen the experience over the last year decided that what we had that worked well for 10 years roughly was probably the best way to go."

When the Buffalo Sabres hired Dan Bylsma last summer, the team had to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 2016 third-round draft pick. Bylsma had been out of work for a year, but was still under contract with the Penguins.

Overall, a total of seven picks were used as compensation with two – Peter DeBoer to the San Jose Sharks as head coach and Ray Shero to the Devils as general manager – waived. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs paid a heavier price, giving up a third-round pick for coach Mike Babcock after he was hired from the Detroit Red Wings. Toronto had to give up another third-round pick for general manager Lou Lamoriello after he was hired from New Jersey.

“I think it was pretty clear that all the reasons supporting why it was eliminated and so I think they said they would try it out for a year. It’s unfortunate for us the year they tried it out was a year in which we were seeking … but I can’t complain and look back,” Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan told reporters. “If we had to go out and 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 certain things you can’t, so I support their decision today.” 

Though hiring former coaches and general managers who had been out of work but were still under contract from their former teams was a major impetus in getting the rule change, the NHL took it a step further and scrapped it altogether. This was in order to prevent any confusion moving forward. 

"I think you remember from the GMs meeting, one of the caveats that I put into place when I agreed to implement the revised policy a year ago was there if there are any problems with this we will scrap it and go back to what we had,” Bettman said. “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."

Calgary Flames president Brian Burke had been a proponent of the policy initially, but was also swayed to change it. 

“It was never envisioned it would apply to terminated employees," Burke said. "The league applied it in that manner and they presented today, I think, some compelling ideas for eliminating it and they eliminated it."

Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said a modification was brought up, but the decision to get rid of the policy was the best path forward for the league.

“I never had any firsthand implementation on it,” he said.

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!