Sedin twins tampering case closed, but questions remain

Sean Leahy
October 11, 2009

On Wednesday, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly released a statement regarding the tampering allegations between the Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs that included the following:

"I confirm the following:

"That Ron Wilson, Head Coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, violated the provisions of NHL By-Law 15 relating to inappropriate public comments by speaking generally to his Club's potential interest in negotiating with Daniel and Henrik Sedin prior to such time as those players' existing contracts with Vancouver had expired. The League has imposed a fine on the Maple Leafs' organization as a result;

"That after a thorough investigation of all the relevant facts and circumstances, the League has found no evidence whatsoever to support Vancouver's broader concerns that the Toronto Maple Leafs' organization may have engaged in any other conduct or activities vis-à-vis the Sedins that were in contravention of the League's rules or policies relating to tampering;"

It's unknown how the NHL conducted its investigation into the matter, but as the Vancouver Province's Jason Botchford found out, it wasn't as thorough as the league might suggest:

"And, really, what would Sedins' agent JP Barry know anyway? That the NHL never contacted Barry, which he confirmed to The Province, suggests there never was much of an investigation. Not really, anyway. Instead, the optics are the NHL hastily put together some findings last week to douse a media brush fire.

If the league took tampering seriously, it would have used Toronto head coach Ron Wilson's comments, the ones the Leafs were fined $25,000 for, as a starting point. Not use it as the exclamation point to close the case."

Botchford also points out that the Sedin twins were not contacted with the NHL either. Further shrouding this mystery is the gag order that the NHL placed on both the Canucks and Maple Leafs, preventing them from speaking about the tampering allegations. Sports Illustrated's Jim Kelley suggests that all sides involve explain their actions:

"How about this for a change of pace: the NHL cites chapter and verse exactly what the Leafs did and did not do wrong. The Leafs then state why they did what they did and the Canucks state why they believe they were within their rights to file a complaint. The issue is aired, the debate is joined by fans and media (at least for a few days), and while no one becomes completely satisfied, at least the league gives the appearance of transparency in regards to how rules are interpreted and applied, and the fans get a chance to argue whether the correct ones were indeed applied."

Before the NHL decides to implement an open policy regarding tampering, I think fans deserve honest explanations behind other league mysteries like All-Star Game voting, who thought the GlowPuck was a good idea and Colin Campbell's "Wheel of Justice".