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NHL execs admit to tampering with free agents like Tyler Bertuzzi, Brett Pesce


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Ryan Smitheram
July 6, 2024  (12:09)
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Gary Bettman
Photo credit: HFBoards

A former NHL referee has confirmed that multiple franchises are guilty of tampering ahead of this year's free agency period.

We saw it two summers ago when the Toronto Maple Leafs said they were not re-signing Jack Campbell, and before free agency officially began, he was set to sign with the Edmonton Oilers.
We also saw it last year while the Leafs were thought to have made progress with Luke Schenn on a new deal before he magically got an offer from the Nashville Predators ahead of July 1st.
Again, this year, we saw tampering in full swing with Tyler Bertuzzi and Brett Pesce and their deals with the Chicago Blackhawks and New Jersey Devils.
According to former NHL executive Neil Smith, the entire league was aware of the extreme amount of tampering heading into this year's free agency, but because teams exploited loopholes, it appears there was not much the league could do.
"There's ways to get around the [free agent] tampering rules by talking to the agents through a third-party," said Smith on his 'NHL Wraparound' show.

One of those loopholes, which was admitted to by Bertuzzi when he met with Chicago media yesterday was that Nick Foligno reached out to him on the eve of free agency saying the Hawks were interested in the 29-year-old. Since Foligno is not a part of the management group in Chicago, technically, there was nothing the league could do about it.
With teams across the league handing out over $1B in contracts on the first day of free agency, it's clear as day that tampering this off-season was significantly more impactful than in off-seasons past and it's something the league needs to look into further and determine some sort of discipline for, perhaps during the next CBA negotiations.
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6 JUILLET   |   1030 ANSWERS
NHL executives caught tampering with UFAs like Tyler Bertuzzi, Brett Pesce

Would the Leafs have agreed on a new deal with Bertuzzi if the Hawks had not tampered?

Yes39838.6 %
No31931 %
We'll never know31330.4 %
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