OTTAWA, Ontario — Shane Pinto signed a contract with the Ottawa Senators, paving the way for the first modern NHL player suspended for gambling to make his season debut.
Pinto, now 23, was banned 41 games — half the season — back in October after an investigation found he violated the league’s sports gambling policy. Neither he nor the league would reveal exactly what he did to draw the suspension other than to say Pinto did not bet on hockey.
Pinto’s deal is worth a pro-rated league minimum of $775,000. He was a restricted free agent when the suspension was handed down, meaning the Senators owned his rights but he was unsigned.
The Long Island native returned to practice last week, eager to put the suspension behind him and get back to playing.
“It’s been a long road for me,” Pinto said Jan. 12 after skating with teammates for the first time in months. “We’re at the finish line here, and I’m just excited for it, honestly.”
Ottawa has had an eventful, underachieving season without Pinto.
New owner Michael Andlauer fired general manager Pierre Dorion after being stripped of a first-round pick and replaced him with Steve Staios, who fired coach D.J. Smith and replaced him with Jacques Martin.
The Senators have lost 24 of their first 40 games. They host Winnipeg before visiting the Flyers in their 42nd game of the season.