Is it finally time to re-name the NHL's major awards?
Several years ago NHL executive vice president Colin Campbell broached the idea of renaming some of the major awards after more modern-day hockey icons.
It didn’t generate enough support at the time among the league’s power brokers. But when asked about it again by ESPN.com this week, Campbell said that he’s open to discussing it again, especially keeping in mind that the league’s 100-year anniversary is around the corner.
He has not yet broached it with the commissioner’s office or the NHL’s board of governors, but he’s discussed it with his own staff.
"It’s something I’ve been passionate about for a long time," Campbell said.
Whether it goes anywhere, well that remains to be seen.
I hope it does. I think Campbell is bang on here and thought so years ago when he first brought it up.
Many of the current awards are named after former owners and executives.
Why not honor the likes of Bobby Orr, Jean Beliveau, Gordie Howe, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux or Scotty Bowman, among others, with the re-branding of some of the game’s top awards?
And with the league’s centennial in the offing in 2017, what a perfect opportunity to do it.
Whether the league’s governors, or commissioner Gary Bettman, would buy in is the question. Bettman has a huge respect for the history of the game and my guess is that his concern over this would be because he values the tradition of the league and sport -- a fact that Campbell certainly would understand.
Without a doubt there would be critics wondering why the NHL would want to take away some of that history. And if I’m in Bettman’s shoes, I get it, it's impossible to please both sides.
But for me, it’s about honoring some of the greatest of the greats who played the game.
Here's an example of how it could look like:
Hart Trophy (MVP) -- Wayne Gretzky trophy
Art Ross (points leader) -- Gordie Howe trophy
Norris (D-man) -- Bobby Orr trophy
Calder (rookie) -- Mario Lemieux trophy
Lady Byng (sportsmanship) -- Jean Beliveau award (a man who’s all about class)
Selke (defensive forward) -- Bob Gainey trophy
Jack Adams (coach) -- Scotty Bowman award
I wouldn't change the Vezina since that trophy is actually named after a former player. And I wouldn’t change the Conn Smythe because that’s a more recent award.
Agree or disagree folks?
PLAYER SAFETY UPDATE
New NHL player safety chief Stephane Quintal continues to interview different candidates as he possibly looks to expand his crew.
After hiring Chris Pronger last month, Quintal has spoken to the likes of Owen Nolan, Claude Loiselle, Scott Stevens and George Parros, a source told ESPN.com.
It’s not clear at this point if Quintal will move ahead on any of those fronts as he will also interview more candidates.
Parros is an intriguing option, a really bright guy. Although he’s not officially retired yet, so perhaps he needs a year away from the game before being more seriously considered for that kind of gig.
And it may well be that Quintal decides not to do anything for a while. He’s already got Pronger, Patrick Burke and player safety Day 1er Damian Echevarrieta as part of his crew. Plus Quintal also leans a lot on Pat LaFontaine, who is VP, hockey development and community affairs, but also consults on player safety cases.
Also important is that Quintal involves the hockey ops guys at the league’s Toronto office, the likes of Colin Campbell, Mike Murphy, Kris King and Kay Whitmore. My sense is that their role has already increased in terms of feedback with Quintal in charge of player safety.
Claude Julien is one of the top coaches in the NHL and his new deal will pay him like one.
While salary details for coaches are about as mysterious anything in this business, one source this week suggested the Bruins’ bench boss will earn an average of around $2.5 million a year in his new deal and the final year tops out at around $3 million. That would put him among the top three or four coaches for sure; it’s believed Chicago’s Joel Quenneville is the highest paid at between $2.75 million and $2.9 million a year.
And yes, makes you wonder where Mike Babcock will end up in his new deal. I’m guessing at least $3 million and maybe more.
Bob Hartley also needs a new deal. Man, he’s earned it. The Flames head coach and first-year GM Brad Treliving agreed they’d get to know each other more before entering into any kind of discussion on that front. My understanding is that those contract talks have not begun yet, but one can expect them to at some point in the not too distant future. Either way, I think it’s going to be a non-issue.