Seen and heard from Hockey Hall night
TORONTO -- Now is not the time to back off the NHL's new rule against head shots, despite some frustration with how Rule 48 has worked so far, Washington Capitals GM George McPhee said Monday night.
Attending the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremonies on the eve of the NHL's GM meetings here, McPhee said the league must keep with it.
"We have to stick with the instructions we gave them from the [GM] meetings last spring," McPhee said. "We have to give it a full year and see how it works. We all think it's a good rule. We're trying to save heads. If a couple of guys get suspended, that's the price you pay to protect some heads."
Joe Thornton's controversial two-game suspension Friday ignited headed debate about the rule, but McPhee said his team had superstar Alex Ovechkin suspended last season.
"That's the way it is," McPhee said. "And Alex has been a different player around the boards since that suspension. We have to give this new rule a chance."
Social media talk
Don Maloney's tabled discussion on social media policy for Tuesday's meeting, which we reported about over the weekend, has people around the industry talking. The NHL currently has no official policy regarding players on Twitter or Facebook.
"That's a conversation I think that's important and I'm interested in," Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini told ESPN.com on Monday.
One official from the NHL Players' Association told ESPN.com that officials from the union and the league's head office chatted about the subject Monday. Veteran GM David Poile of the Nashville Predators isn't against Twitter, citing that his team certainly uses it to reach out to fans.
"I've got time for it, it's interesting, but it's also not a perfect situation," Poile said while attending Monday night's Hall induction. "You saw what happened with Dan Ellis in Tampa Bay. I know Dan Ellis. I know what he was trying to say about the money and what have you, but he got really crucified for his position. He was tweeting to have some fun, I think, and it backfired on him, and eventually that's going to happen to everyone who has an opinion."
The Washington Capitals have been arguably the most progressive team in the NHL when it comes to new media, and McPhee told ESPN.com his players have been advised about the proper social media decorum.
"We've talked to our players; we had meetings before the start of the year to educate them all," McPhee said. "To date, they've been pretty good."
Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman is in town for the GMs' meeting, and it just so happens Don Meehan, the agent for his star forward, Steven Stamkos, is also based here. A source told ESPN.com that Yzerman and Meehan will talk contract Tuesday.
Stamkos is in the final year of his entry-level deal and is slated for restricted free agency after this season.
The case for Fred Shero
There's been a lot of talk, and deservedly so, that former coach Pat Burns should have been inducted in this year's Hall class. But there's another former coach who should have been honored long ago.
Former Flyers and Rangers coach Fred Shero, who led the Broad Street Bullies teams of the 1970s to a pair of Stanley Cups, has the pedigree and should be in the Hall.
"Over the last couple of years, more and more people have asked me about it," Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero, Fred's son, said Monday night while attending the induction ceremonies. "I think it would be a great thing, obviously. My mom passed away last spring ... but I think he had a great contribution to the game at all levels. He impacted the game. He affected peoples' lives in a good way. He won a championship at every level."
But his late father still hasn't been inducted.
"The interesting thing is, a lot of people who have asked me about it, a few of them said, 'We always thought he was in,' and a lot of people were surprised he wasn't," Shero said. "On behalf of the family, we appreciate people who bring it up and push for it, so we'll see. There's a lot of people that aren't in, and he's one of them. Time will tell."
Dino versus Jimmy D
Fellow inductees Dino Ciccarelli and Jimmy Devellano shared time together in Detroit during their respective careers, and fought in the boardroom.
"One thing I remember about Dino, and we laugh about it now, but him and I would get into some awful contract squabbles," Devellano said Monday. "Oh, would we ever get into some squabbles. As hard as Dino played on the ice, he played hard when it came time to get a contract."
Ciccarelli represented himself in some of those contract talks with the Wings.
"I'm a stubborn guy," Ciccarelli said. "I believed in what I was worth. When you're negotiating, they're trying to intimidate you. It's just like playing the game -- you don't back down. You hang in there until you agree to something."
It was me, Dino
Years later, I was finally able to apologize to Dino Ciccarelli. In his first year of eligibility, I was still working at The Canadian Press when that year's Hall inductees were announced and Ciccarelli wasn't among them. I called him up for his reaction, and when he saw the Toronto area code, he thought it was the Hall calling. Much to his crushing disappointment, he found out through me, a measly reporter, that he didn't get in.
"Oh, you? Oh, you're the ass who called," Ciccarelli said with a smile Monday morning during his media availability.
No hard feelings, Dino said.
"I think the media would always think I would get into it and be ticked off, but really, how can you complain? I wasn't even supposed to play, let alone play 19 years and have the success and score the goals," he said. "I got to the point where I said, 'If I get the call, it would be a great honor.' If not, then you still know you had a great career. So I wasn't frustrated with it. I had no control over it."
Predators captain Shea Weber will be a restricted free agent at season's end, one year removed from unrestricted free agency. Those contract talks are the biggest in the history of the Predators' franchise.
Poile said the dialogue continues with Weber's representation, Don Meehan's Newport Sports.
"We talk all the time; they represent about 10 players on our team," Poile said. "They know where we stand. We talk all the time. We'd like to do something."
The uncertainty of what the next collective bargaining agreement will look like in two years has added another challenge.
"We don't even know what the rules will be," Poile said. "If you a sign for the next number of years, what are we signing him into? What system? We can say it's approximately the same system, but what's approximately the same system? Does that have a cap of $53 million or a cap of $60 million, or is it going down to $48 million? Is the players' share at 57 percent or 50 percent? Those are just basic things."
Quebec City and the NHL
Former Nordiques owner Marcel Aubut remains very active in an attempt to bring an NHL team back to Quebec City, including the efforts of building a new rink, which is paramount.
"Everything is going well," Aubut told ESPN.com in French on Monday night. "Lots of things happening behind the scenes. I'm very positive about things."
Wings and Howard
Red Wings GM Ken Holland said contract talks have not yet begun with goalie Jimmy Howard, who is slated for unrestricted free agency July 1.
"Obviously, Jimmy's been a great story for us and we'd like to keep him," Holland said Monday night before the induction ceremony. "We haven't started negotiations. We will sit down at some point in time, but I want him to get out of the gate here this year first. He's a sophomore. I don't want him to be distracted in his second season with a negotiation."