According to multiple reports, Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Auston Matthews spent his All-Star weekend in Tampa Bay “actively recruiting” pending free-agents Drew Dougthy and Erik Karlsson.
This led to a field day for Toronto based media outlets like Sportsnet and TSN and it sent Los Angeles Kings and Ottawa Senators fans into an absolute frenzy. The NHL has neglected to comment on the issue, and the league’s rules about what exactly constitutes tampering from one player to another player is a bit hazy.
All of this has raised the question, “what the Hell is tampering anyway?” The rules are clearly defined when it comes to coaches and GM's, but what about the players? What constitutes tampering amongst the players?
The Athletic’s Tyler Dellow uncovered an interesting clause in the NHL’s CBA (by way of Detroit Red Wings blog Winging it in Motown), that sheds a bit of light on the question at hand.
The phrasing in this paragraph is interesting. “Players may not tamper with or help with contract negotiations for other players…”, it states. Well… clearly this never happened. Matthews certainly wasn’t talking salary and bonus structure with his fellow All-Stars, he was merely dropping hints with a “wouldn’t it be great” grin on his face.
With no real hockey the past few days, the tampering “allegations” have been a topic of hot debate on Toronto radio stations. Opinions range from “lock him up” to “forget about it”, but don’t hold your breath on any meaningful penalty or suspension. After all, the hockey world is a small community and this wouldn’t be the first time that players talked to each other off the record about their future plans. Still, if either Doughty or Karlsson end up signing with the Leafs in the summer of 2019, you can BET that Kings fans and Senators fans will be calling for Matthews’ head!