Wilson guilty, Burke excused in NHL tampering investigation

Earlier today, we covered the tampering charges levied against Toronto Maple Leafs President Brian Burke by Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis over a trade rumor Burke passed along on a Leafs TV draft video; one that Gillis vehemently labeled a fabrication.

We never viewed it as tampering. Bad form for a GM, sure, and a total nuisance for Gillis; just not tampering.

Neither did the NHL in its investigation of the matter, letting Burke's offense go unpunished.

However, earlier comments by Leafs Coach Ron Wilson about Vancouver's Henrik and Daniel Sedin(notes) were in fact found to be in violation of League tampering bylaws. The Leafs are going to pay the price for it.

From NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly:

"Ron Wilson, Head Coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, violated the provisions of NHL By-Law 15 relating to inappropriate public comments by speaking generally to his Club's potential interest in negotiating with Daniel and Henrik Sedin(notes) prior to such time as those players' existing contracts with Vancouver had expired. The League has imposed a fine on the Maple Leafs' organization as a result; (Ed. Note: Bob McKenzie of TSN has the fine at $25,000.)

"That after a thorough investigation of all the relevant facts and circumstances, the League has found no evidence whatsoever to support Vancouver's broader concerns that the Toronto Maple Leafs' organization may have engaged in any other conduct or activities vis-à-vis the Sedins that were in contravention of the League's rules or policies relating to tampering."

"That while unfortunate and inappropriate, the inclusion of a brief reference to the names of a pair of current Vancouver Canucks players in a television segment that aired once on Leafs TV last week did not constitute a tampering offense under League rules, and that no League action will be taken, or League sanction imposed on the Maple Leafs' organization as a result.

"The Maple Leafs have been advised that the League likely would impose discipline for any future inappropriate conduct on their part that may cause, or may reasonably be perceived to cause, damage to the Canucks' franchise, or its relationship with its existing players and/or employees.

The NHL finished by saying case closed, and keep your yaps shut, all of youz.

Leafs blog Pension Plan Puppets didn't exactly feel this was a federal case:

"I wonder how long the league had to stifle their laughs when they had to seriously deal with the accusations lobbied by the Canucks. After all. for the Leafs to commit such an egregious act bordering on a massive conspiracy, a team actually needs to care about the opposition. Somehow, I doubt anyone taking the Vancouver Canucks all that seriously."

The Wilson case was an obvious incident of tampering; His saying "there's a real possibility, I would think, that we would be going after the Sedins" before free agency began doesn't leave much to the imagination.

Gillis and the Canucks have to feel some vindication here; even if it's a fine instead of something more severe, and it's the lieutenant and not the big boss that was pinched.

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