Friday, September 14, 2007

Numminen Suspended

An example of why a strong NHLPA is needed by the players (as opposed to the current one trying to rebuild from serious problems) hit the news today. Teppo Numminen of the Buffalo Sabres needs heart surgery. This is his third heart surgery. He has had earlier surgery to fix an irregular heartbeat, that at one time looked like it would end his career. This surgery is apparently to fix a different problem.

Naturally, the Buffalo Sabres suspended him. The logical thing to do when your player needs heart surgery is to suspend him right? The official line is that Teppo Numminen failed to report to training camp in the proper physical condition.

The real problem is that because Numminen has had previous heart surgery, the Sabres could not insure his contract (at least not at a reasonable rate). Buffalo is already at or above their expected salary budget (in part due to Thomas Vanek's huge offer sheet), so instead of having to pay Numminen's salary and that of the defenceman that fills his roster spot, the Sabres have suspended him.

This makes the NHL look bad. This makes the Buffalo Sabres look bad. This is an extremely ridiculous situation that the NHLPA should be preventing.

I would normally link to the TSN story on this issue, but there isn't one (yet?). This shows that embarrassing NHL news does not get covered properly by TSN as the NHL and TSN are too closely tied to give us unbiased coverage. Here is the TSN story about the heart surgery with no mention of a suspension.

NOTE: There is another unrelated case where the NHLPA should be involved. The NHL's decision to suspend Mark Bell of the Toronto Maple Leafs for his drunk driving and hit and run conviction. Suspending players for off-ice crimes like this is a new NHL policy and the NHLPA should be involved in any new policy decisions like that affecting their players Tom Benjamin blogs about this.

TSN is simply relying on the wire services to provide coverage, and the story you linked to is from yesterday afternoon. Numminen's suspension was not known until it was unearthed by local media this morning, and my guess is the next AP story that goes up on TSN will have the information.

There's no bias there.
TSN is never the ones to break bad news. But they always have "feel good" NHL stories.

As the website of record for the NHL (they are aren't they?) they should do better.
Just to update James' cxomments. The next story on the NHL webpage is Blake looks to add spark to Maple Leafs. Like many of their stories it is written by the Canadian Press. maybe I am wrong to singularly blame TSN for the lack of the embarrassing Numminen story (maybe it will eventually pop up - but hardly in a timely fashion). The AP hockey writes need to share the blame.

But there is reason to single out TSN above and beyond the AP wire stories. They have Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger writin g stories that appear on the hockey page (and relatively frequently in the last couple of days) and neither of them have seen fit to say anything about Numminen.
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