Is it a conflict of interest for the general manager of an NHL team to be a stockholder in another? In the case of Detroit GM Jimmy Devallano, NHL Commissioner John Ziegler says no -- for now.
Devallano owns some shares in Maple Leaf Gardens, Ltd., the company which also controls the Toronto Maple Leafs.
But Ziegler says: "You have to concern yourself only when it gets to a situation of conflict of interest."
Devallano started buying Maple Leaf Garden shares about a decade ago when he was a scout for the New York Islanders. At the time, the shares cost $21 each. Now, they're up to $169 a share and Devallano owns 5,100, less than 1 per cent of the 735,580 outstanding shares. That amounts to $861,900 worth of investments in a rival NHL club.
Asked if the league had guidelines to determine if Devallano was in conflict, Ziegler said that could only be determined by an investigation. Asked if an investigation was under way, Ziegler said:
"That's not something we discuss publicly. That's always been my policy."
Devallano, meanwhile, defended his position.
"I don't intend to resign," he said, "and why should I sell my stock? It's done very well. It's not my fault it goes up."
After the first month of the season, the Red Wings ranked second in the league in goals-allowed under new Coach Jacques Demers -- quite a turnaround considering their propensity to give up goals under Brad Park last year, when they finished with the worst record in hockey.
"Detroit plays such a hard brand of hockey this year, you can get frustrated and tired at the same time," New York Islander goaltender Kelly Hrudey said. "They wear you down. It doesn't really look it, but they're hooking and holding all the time, and you're trying to break free. I can see from my vantage point, our guys are so tired when they play Detroit."
Islander forward Duane Sutter: "Detroit lulls you to sleep. Demers always coached that same defensive style when he was in St. Louis."
Asked if the 25-year-old Hrudey is being groomed as the Islander goaltender of the future to replace the venerable Billy Smith, Coach Terry Simpson said:
"I know that's the general feeling, but it doesn't necessarily hold. We've got a couple of goaltenders in our system that we're fairly high on. We think Smitty is playing well and there's no reason why he can't play for two, three or four more years, with his experience and everything he's got. He gets himself ready to play...he's a competitor. We're just very fortunate with our goaltending. We have two really good goaltenders."
Smith is 35 years old.
It's not always necessary to grow up in a cold climate to be a professional hockey player, says Max McNab, general manager of the New Jersey Devils.
He says his son, Peter, got a lot of impetus in hockey after the family moved from Vancouver to San Diego, Calif., when Peter was 12 years old.
"That worked to his advantage," McNab said, "because the rinks were open year round in San Diego because of figure skating and he was able to skate 12 months a year. He went from there to the University of Denver, where he learned the game."
Peter McNab plays for his father on the Devils.