BUFFALO, N.Y. – The NHL has yet to rule on tampering complaints against Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning, but deputy commissioner Bill Daly made it pretty clear that he crossed the line earlier this week.
Asked Saturday if teams can publicly discuss their interest in pending free agents before the negotiating window opens, Daly replied: “Nope.”
That’s what Benning did in a radio interview with TSN 1040 on Thursday. Not only did he acknowledge engaging in trade discussions with Montreal about P.K. Subban – much to the chagrin of Habs GM Marc Bergevin – he also said he had interest in Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos.
“We’re going to get the draft here … and then we’re going to pick up the phone and we’re going to call his agent,” Benning said in the radio interview.
Those comments generated concerns from multiple rival teams, according to Daly.
The deputy commissioner has already had a discussion with Benning and Canucks president Trevor Linden and hinted that some form of punishment was coming.
“They understand where we are on this situation,” said Daly. “We talked about announcing something early next week.”
There aren’t too many instances of tampering fines being released publicly – at least since a $25,000 penalty imposed on the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2009 after coach Ron Wilson said in a radio interview that the team was interested in pending free agents Henrik and Daniel Sedin.
A window for teams to have contract discussions with unrestricted free agents opened at 12:01 a.m. ET on Saturday, so comments like the one Benning made about Stamkos would be allowed now. But it was verboten beforehand.
Daly indicated that there’s a sliding scale of punishment for tampering based on how severe the infraction was.
“We’ve had a couple of instances where team people have spoken out of school,” he said. “I’m not sure if we’ve announced the penalties associated with them. There’s a lot of different factors involved in something like that. You have to see if there was damage done by the comments.
“Typically, if it’s perceived as more of a violation than any damage done, it might be less. Really depends on the circumstances.”
We’ll find out where this one falls soon.