Skip to main content


Insider Trading: Wilson in hot water with player safety

Insider Trading Insider Trading - TSN
TSN Hockey Insiders Chris Johnston and Pierre LeBrun join host James Duthie to discuss Tom Wilson's in-person hearing for his high stick on Noah Gregor, the latest on Canada and the U.S. at the men’s worlds, a GM/coaches meeting slated for September, more details on the NHL’s Amazon show and the number of candidates for the Blue Jackets’ GM job.

Back from the GM's meetings and back to hockey stuff, and that includes Tom Wilson and a possible other suspension, guys. He's had a great career, was a big part of the Capitals' Stanley Cup win. But, the entire career dotted with these suspensions and another big one coming?

Johnston: It would appear so. And look, Tom Wilson himself looked almost apologetic after high sticking Noah Gregor in that game on Wednesday night. But, I don't know that there's much he can say in his hearing to offset what's to come here. His history works against him - that being five suspensions already, three fines, some significant ones, including a 14- and seven-game suspension, and also the current environment. We've seen the Department of Player Safety give out significant suspensions this year in places that, you know, involve a stick hitting a player's face, some cross-checking ones. And George Parros was just in Palm Beach delivering that message to the [general managers]. And so, Tom Wilson getting an in-person hearing, I do think it doesn't bode well for him, given all those factors.

We're creeping up on the playoffs and that also means the World Championship. And, with best-on-best hockey returning next year and Olympics just a couple of years away, will the Worlds be the beneficiary?

Johnston: Yeah, I think especially for the North American-based teams. Team Canada and Team USA sometimes have a little more difficult time selling the tournament on players. But, I think it sells itself in this case. One thing Doug Armstrong mentioned - he's running Canada's Olympic team, of course - was if you say no to the [World Championship], it doesn't disqualify you from the Olympics. But, you have to remember someone's going to go there, someone's going to play well. Someone is going to be higher on our radar when they leave that tournament. And, I think for Bill Guerin, the American GM, it's even more direct. He wants to see players that have been competitive, that have played at their best. And obviously, if you're not in the playoffs back in North America, the only place you can be doing that is in Prague in May.

You guys did a terrific job at the GM's meetings. The next time they'll be together [is] in the fall with the coaches.

LeBrun: Yeah. So, they started this for the first time last year. They did not have a June GM meetings, which in a way is too bad for us - for what we do - because that June GM meetings, you would see [general managers] come out of that meeting with hair on fire as they battled trade talk and re-signing key players, but they just weren't focused. So, that's why they moved that meeting last year to September in Chicago and also invited the head coaches. They're going to do it again. They agreed on that this past week [in] West Palm Beach that they would do it again that way. And for the coaches it's a rare opportunity. It's a chance to hear from NHL hockey ops directly about coach's challenge and what to look for in that upcoming season. So, they'll do it again.

Johnston: And just to put a wrap on Palm Beach, and one of the interesting items to come out of there is the fact the NHL is partnering with Amazon to do a behind-the-scenes show. Well, it's been a couple of days now since the producer of that show addressed the [general managers]. And already, the impression is that it's being received quite well and that a number of big-name players are buying in. We're talking about ... McDavid, Matthews, Draisaitl, William Nylander, Pastrnak. Some of these players have already committed to [it] in some way, shape or form sitting down for this show. It's not yet clear. It's a little fluid. Who will be the stars of the show? I think some of that will be determined by how their teams do this spring. But, the NHL made it very clear that while this isn't maybe the best time to be giving extra time for the players, this is important to sell the sport.

Well, here's an episode for you: Columbus GM search. Get in the back rooms. Who's it going to be? Go through all the interviews. A ton of candidates there?

LeBrun: That would be a lot of fun, actually. That's a good idea. Yeah, they are 30 to 40 names deep so far on their original list of GM candidates for the Columbus Blue Jackets GM job. They have not interviewed anyone yet. They're still in the process of reaching out to people. Also, candidates have reached out directly to them, and some other front offices have forwarded some names that they feel the Blue Jackets should speak with. They may add other names to it when the regular season ends there next month, depending on what happens with some teams missing the playoffs. The most important criteria in this search - led by John Davidson and Mike Priest - [is] experience, which doesn't necessarily mean you have to be a GM or a former GM, but you certainly will need NHL front office experience to get an interview when that process begins.

You'd like to think they'd have somebody in place by the draft, which is going to be in The Sphere in Vegas. What about the awards show that now seems to coincide with the draft?

LeBrun: Great question, James. You're on fire today. They have not ironed out details for the NHL Awards show just yet. Now, next week, they're going to examine The Sphere again, because you just mentioned that they're going to have the draft there. But, while NHL officials are there, they're going to look for a venue for the award show, which they hope to hold on the eve of the NHL draft in Vegas. It's a crazy busy week in Vegas. ... So, it's not a guarantee that there is an actual award show that way, but they're going to try to get it done. We'll see.