Stephane Quintal takes over NHL Player Safety for playoffs; but then what?

Nicholas J. Cotsonika
Stephane Quintal

Get ready for "Quintal-a-bans."

Stephane Quintal will fill Brendan Shanahan’s role as NHL disciplinarian for the final days of the regular season and the playoffs, now that Shanahan has become president of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

From the NHL:

At the direction of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Brendan Shanahan immediately relinquished responsibility for overseeing the League’s Department of Player Safety upon accepting the position of President of the Toronto Maple Leafs yesterday afternoon.       

Effective with Thursday night’s games and for the balance of the regular season and throughout the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs, Stephane Quintal assumes the role of conducting hearings and administering supplementary discipline.       

The National Hockey League has a first-rate and fully functional team of professionals staffed in the Player Safety Department that will continue to monitor all plays in all games and to flag plays that warrant review and potential discipline. There will be no change in the approach that has been established by the Department of Player Safety and the League will take all steps necessary to ensure a consistent standard of enforcement and application of discipline for the balance of this season.

Quintal spent 16 seasons as an NHL defenseman and retired in 2004. He has been with the department of player safety since it was founded in 2011. Technically, deputy commissioner Bill Daly will have the final calls on suspensions – the commissioner’s office always has under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement – and Daly might be more involved than in the past. But Quintal is expected to make the rulings.

Shanahan set up the DPS so it could run without him, and it will continue to operate essentially as it has. Damian Echevarrieta, the vice president of player safety and hockey operations, has been with the DPS since the start and will keep running the video room. Brian Leetch, the former star defenseman, and Patrick Burke, a former scout, are in their first seasons with the DPS and will stay in their roles.

The question is what will happen after the playoffs.

Commissioner Gary Bettman and former disciplinarian Colin Campbell hand-picked Shanahan for the job because of his unique background and skill set. He scored and got into trouble during his Hall of Fame playing career, and he had communication and political skills. He had credibility, and he had the ability to handle the public, players and angry general managers.

Ideally, they will want someone else like that to take the worst job in hockey, but it won’t be easy. Quintal doesn’t have Shanahan’s star power and his first language is French. Leetch is just starting out and hasn’t indicated he wants the big job.

Bettman was unavailable for interviews Friday.