Slap Shots: NHL, union hilarity and Devils hiring chaos

In an alternate universe, I would have devoted this entire space to the ongoing talks between the NHL and NHLPA and how absolutely sidesplittingly hilarious it is that the league, which shut down the sport for an entire season in order to gain its revenue-linked hard cap it could not live without, is now relying on the union to save the system it cannot live with under these adverse conditions.

And get this, Mrs. Maisel, the union actually appears to be going along with it, knee deep in negotiating ways to reduce the pain of expected enormous escrow losses through at least 2020-21 instead of aiming for a reset that would rid the NHL forever of its linked hard cap/escrow system the players have decried since the moment it was established.

But, honestly, I doubt very many of you are terribly invested in reading about hockey labor negotiations. The players seem unwilling to fight over the CBA and about eliminating the unyielding hard cap even when at this juncture in which they hold a fair amount of leverage. But you probably don’t want to hear much about leverage, either, in the midst of this pandemic that has created so much emotional and economic wreckage and whose work is probably not remotely close to done.

So I will move on even as the NHL moves to at least temporarily de-link the cap from revenue, which is something Gary Bettman once said (once?) he and the Board would never, ever, never consider. Well, never is a very long time. And now that de-linking works in the league’s favor, well, of course it’s a good idea, and why not, and good night, everybody, here’s Shy Baldwin.

We’re hearing tales of confusion within the Devils hierarchy as ownership and its proxies continue to conduct interviews for the GM position that continues to be filled on an interim/acting basis by Tom Fitzgerald.

Different candidates have apparently been interviewed by different individuals within the executive branch, but dividing and conquering seems to be part of the Josh Harris-David Blitzer ownership philosophy.

Beyond that, third parties dealing with the New Jersey hockey department don’t know who is responsible for making decisions.

It’s under these conditions that the organization may hire a coach to replace interim man Alain Nasreddine, with Peter Laviolette having emerged as the leading contender, before settling on a permanent general manager.

The Devils have a CEO in Scott O’Neil and a president named Jake Reynolds, so it would seem that the team is seeking a standard-operating GM rather than a Brendan Shanahan/John Davidson type chief hockey exec.

I don’t know whether Kevin Weekes would be interested in assuming that type of role, but if so, and if he has not yet been invited for a virtual sit-down with Harris and Blitzer (or Donner, O’Neil and Reynolds, if not Martin Brodeur and who knows, maybe even Bob Butera), then what are the Devils waiting for?

Maybe it was no Mark Messier deal, and they were actually two trades separated by 48 hours. But you’d have to go pretty far and dig pretty deep to find a transaction/transactions better than the Islanders and Bill Torrey getting J.P. Parise from the North Stars for Ernie Hicke and Doug Rombough on Jan. 5, 1975, two days before Jude Drouin came from Minnesota in exchange for Craig Cameron.

By the way, we’re told that when the Rangers came calling for Ken Hodge following the 1975-76 season, the Bruins first asked for Steve Vickers in return.

Good thing that general manager John Ferguson was sly enough to turn that one down and instead insert Rick Middleton into the deal.

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