With things relatively quiet in Habs Nation, here are some of the more interesting stories circulating around the hockey world.
A Philadelphia Daily News gossip columnist Dan Gross (who is not one of their sports writers) had an item Monday that two Flyers believe the reason GM Paul Holmgren traded Jeff Carter and P.K. Subban’s best friend Mike Richards was that the pair because they partied too hard. “The two unnamed players said that the Flyers front office was disappointed in Carter and Richards’ longstanding party lifestyle and that teammates were concerned about the pair’s drinking,” Gross wrote.
He went on to say Flyers coach Peter Lavoilette instituted a “Dry Island” policy in which he asked players to not drink for a month and each player was asked to write his number on a locker room board as a pledge. The numbers 17 and 18 never appeared in any of the roughly half-dozen times Laviolette declared “Dry Island” month.
Asked to comment, GM Paul Holmgren confirmed to Gross the two never volunteered for “Dry Island”, but added they were not along. “We carry 23 players and there wasn’t 23 numbers up there,” Holmgren said.
Holmgren was “really upset that this is out there. That’s our locker room. Our inner sanctum. Our board. Someone’s crossing a line here,” in discussing the Dry Island. Holmgren said it was “preposterous” that partying factored into the decision to trade Richards and Carter, saying these were “two good hockey trades that will better suit us now and for the future. Columbus is happy, L.A. is happy and the Flyers are happy with the deal.”
Carter’s agent Rick Curran called the charges “bull—-” and slammed the unnamed players for not “having the balls to come out publicly” and stand behind their claim that partying was the reason the pair was traded, adding their anonymity undermined the credibility of the accusation.
Since we all know hockey players only drink Gatorade, the official sports drink of the NHL, none of this can possibly be true.
NEW GIG: Andy Murray, former coach of the Kings and Blues who worked in the Canadiens hockey department for a few months in 2006 before getting hired in St. Louis, will formally be hired Tuesday as the new head coach of Western Michigan University, replacing Jeff Blashill, who unexpectedly left to take an assistant’s job under Mike Babcock with the Red Wings.
Murray’s 10 year NHL coaching record is He compiled a career record of 333-278-58-71 and he worked part of the 2006-07 season for the Habs after he was dismissed following seven years coaching the Kings, and his work for the Habs was widely praised and credited as a factor in the team’s 24-9-5 start under new coach Guy Carbonneau. Murray is known as one of the best prepared coaches in hockey, going so far as to slip written copies of the game plan under the hotel doors of the players the night before road games.
“I was so fortunate, so incredibly lucky, to be able to work in the Montreal Canadiens organization for two or three months, and for someone like Bob Gainey,” Murray told George Johnson of ESPN.com in 2007. “I was a Habs fan growing up, so it was, in all honesty, an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
“I still have my business card — Andy Murray, Montreal Canadiens, Consultant — and I’ll keep it forever. I guess some people might laugh at that. ‘You’ve been a head coach in the league for a long time’ and whatnot. But the organization in Montreal is so solid, so steeped in history and tradition, it was a thrill to be a part of it, however briefly.”
BIG BUCKS: According to the Sports Business Journal, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s salary has doubled from $3.7 million to the $7.5 million (all figures US dollars), according to tax filings SJB obtained. Bettman’s base salary for 2009-10 was $5,787,524. He received $826,369 in other compensation, $877,597 in deferred compensation and $25,988 in benefits.
That’s still less than MLB’s commissioner Bud Selig ($18.35 million), NFL boss Roger Goodell ($10.9 million) and what NBA commissioner David Stern is believed to make (estimated at more than $10 million).
Paul Hunter of The Toronto Star notes that his pay rate means Bettman makes more than all but 17 NHL players, including Scott Gomez and everyone else on the Canadiens.
“Bettman would likely have a better year than Gomez; he’d certainly be feistier,” Hunter wrote.
In fact, Hunter was wrong about their relative salaries; Bettman’s salary was listed for 2009-10 when Gomez’s was $8 million. Only his cap hit was lower ($7,357,143). There is, apparently, no salary cap on NHL commissioners.