Nathan MacKinnon’s comical misconduct on Wednesday night drew plenty of attention at the expense of Arizona Coyotes forward Conor Garland. Even in the midst of an 8-3 blowout in his favor, the Colorado Avalanche superstar lost his head in a scrum late in the third period, grappling with Garland and then picking up his opponent’s fallen helmet and bowling it back into his face. (video) While the helmet toss itself did not appear to do much damage (and has supplied many a laugh on April Fool’s Day), it was clearly a penalty. MacKinnon was handed a ten-minute misconduct and an ejection, but most expected that he could receive some supplemental discipline for the act. Well, the NHL Department of Player Safety has handed down their decision, but it isn’t what many – especially Coyotes fans – expected or hoped for. MacKinnon has been fined $5,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct, but will not be suspended. This is the maximum fine for that particular penalty, but in the big picture means little to MacKinnon. There has been mounting scrutiny over the league’s handling of egregious penalties committed by its biggest stars and the recent leniency with MacKinnon and Connor McDavid will not help their cause.
- The NHLPA is adding a pair of noteworthy names to its staff. The Players’ Association announced today that former NHLers Ron Hainsey and Sean Bergenheim have been hired to executive positions. Hainsey, whose hiring seemingly marks his retirement after playing last season and speaking to team’s this off-season, has been named Assistant to the Executive Director for Special Projects and Development Initiatives. Bergenheim, who hung up his skates in 2018 and last played in the NHL in 2014-15, will hold the title of NHLPA European Affairs Representative. Bergenheim’s 506 career NHL games with four teams is impressive enough, but pales in comparison to Hainsey’s 1,132 career games with seven different teams. The NHLPA adds plenty of veteran hockey know-how with these additions, while both have held administrative roles in their careers as well. As for their specific duties with the Players’ Association, the press release describes each role as follows:
Bergenheim will work closely with NHL players from Europe, and on behalf of the NHLPA on matters relating to international competitions as well as professional hockey in Europe… Hainsey will work on a variety of matters related to the administration of the CBA, media and broadcast partners, and new opportunities for marketing and sponsorship, all with special emphasis on the enhancement of player communication within the NHLPA.
- For a daily dose of hockey history, it is worth noting that the last time the NHL had a trade deadline date in April was in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. Unlike today, there were a number of April 1 trades that year as well. And it was the Calgary Flames who sadly held the title of April Fools that year. The team dealt star defenseman Jay Bouwmeester to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for prospect forward Mark Cundari, the rights to goaltender Reto Berra, and a 2013 first-round pick. Bouwmeester would go on to play at a high level for seven more seasons with the Blues, going to the postseason six times and winning a Stanley Cup, before retiring this past off-season. As for the Flames’ return? Cundari played eight games over two seasons with Calgary and then never played in the NHL again. Berra played just half a season in Calgary, posting poor numbers, before being traded away for a second-round pick. That second-rounder became Hunter Smith, who played two AHL seasons and two ECHL seasons before retiring, having never seen NHL action. And the first-rounder from the initial deal? That was used to select Emile Poirier, who played just eight games over two seasons with Calgary and is currently playing in Europe. As they say, four strikes and you’re out. This is a trade that the Flames wish had only been an April Fool’s Day prank.