Earlier this month, Claude Loiselle was seen as the leading candidate for the NHL’s new sheriff in the Department of Player Safety.
Larry Brooks of the New York Post had him in the job, with an announcement pending. Loiselle’s previous gig with the NHL’s hockey operations department, working closely with deputy commissioner Bill Daly, appeared to give him the inside track after being left go by the Toronto Maple Leafs as an assistant general manager.
Well, things have changed, according to Darren Dreger of TSN. He reported Friday that Loiselle is “no longer in the mix” for the job.
Who is in the mix?
Stephane Quintal, who worked under Brendan Shanahan when he was the department’s director, has interviewed for the job and has received strong support internally from those who’ve worked with him. There’s a sense that Quintal would build on what Shanahan and his department already have in place, rather than remake it.
Dreger also mentions Kris King, who was an early name thrown around to replace Shanahan. King is the NHL’s senior director of hockey operations. He’s worked within the NHL’s video review War Room and has been involved in player safety issues like concussion prevention for years.
He also had 2,030 penalty minutes in 849 career NHL games, so he brings that sense of expertise on physical play that Shanahan (2,489 PIMs) did.
What if it’s someone outside the NHL braintrust?
Dreger mentioned former Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee.
That would be an inspired choice, actually. He has the respect of the peers he’s worked with for the last 17 seasons. As a player, he had a certain amount of truculence and pugnacity. He was one of the NHL’s more forward-thinking and insightful general managers when it came to innovations in the game – at least in my conversations with him.
And he has that glorious, spooky monotone that Shanahan has to narrate the player safety videos, coupled with the prerequisite poker face.
However … one assumes the end game for McPhee would be to become a general manager again in the NHL. The Department of Player Safety would seem to be an effective launch point for such a candidacy, as both Brendan Shanahan and Brian Burke can testify.
Not to impugn McPhee’s integrity, but would anyone else feel a little awkward about having a guy gunning for an NHL GM job helping to pass judgment on teams, or is bias overrated when it comes to Player Safety because it’s essentially a committee?