NHL ends draft pick compensation for signing coaches, execs

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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — The NHL eliminated its policy Tuesday that allowed teams to seek compensation when other franchises hired away a coach or executive under contract.

Commissioner Gary Bettman told the Board of Governors that as of Jan. 1, the league will revert to its old policy that gave teams the right to grant or deny permission to other franchises to talk to coaches and executives under contract. But if a coach or executive does switch teams there will be no compensation allowed.

"I think on balance, it just wasn't worth the debate, the confusion, the uncertainty that flowed from it," Bettman said. "Frankly, I thought the old policy worked very well. ... One of the caveats that I put into place when I agreed to implement the revised policy a year ago was if there are any problems with this we will scrap it and go back to what we had. That ultimately happened."

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly gave a report on the history of the policy and how it worked for 10 years and what happened this past year with the change.

Bettman then asked the governors if there were any questions or comments and then said he was changing the policy back.

"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," Bettman said.

The league had a one-year trial run that allowed either a second- or third-round pick to be given as compensation for coaches and executives under contract even if they had been fired.

There were seven cases where draft picks were given away, including Toronto giving up third-round picks to sign coach Mike Babcock from Detroit and general manager Lou Lamoriello from New Jersey.

"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 said. "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."

Among the other teams to give up picks were Buffalo for signing coach Dan Bylsma from Pittsburgh, Edmonton for signing general manager Peter Chiarelli from Boston and coach Todd McLellan from San Jose, New Jersey for signing coach John Hynes from Pittsburgh and Columbus for signing coach John Tortorella from Vancouver.

New Jersey waived compensation for losing coach Peter DeBoer to San Jose and Pittsburgh waived it when New Jersey signed general manager Ray Shero.

Some teams had issues with compensation being required when coaches or executives had already been fired, as was the case with Tortorella.

"What we were trying to do was provide an orderly way for young management people or coaches to be allowed to progress and move up the ladder," Calgary President Brian Burke said. "But a team that had skill at identifying young people would be compensated for it. It was never envisioned it would apply to terminated employees. The league applied it in that manner and they presented today, I think, some compelling ideas for eliminating it and they eliminated it."

On other topics, Bettman said he believes the league's concussion protocol and the implementation of spotters at games is working.

"We're proactive in dealing with this issue and I think the board was very comfortable with what they were hearing," he said.

Bettman declined to comment on a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the family of late Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Steve Montador, who suffered from extensive chronic traumatic encephalopathy when he died in February. The lawsuit contends the league didn't take the necessary steps to keep him reasonably safe during his career and failed to provide him with crucial medical information on the ramifications of brain trauma.

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