Gary Bettman will testify before a U.S. congressional panel in Washington today as part of the U.S. government's efforts to crack down on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports.
Bettman, NBA commissioner David Stern and Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig are among the sporting dignitaries scheduled to appear in front of Florida Republican congressman Cliff Stearns' House of Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection sub-committee.
NHL players association boss Bob Goodenow also is slated to be on hand, league vice-president Bill Daly said last night via email.
In an attempt to crack down on doping in the major North American sports leagues, Stearns has proposed the "Drug Free Sports Act," which calls for a two-year suspension for a first offence and a lifetime ban for a second.
Team Canada's Mike Fisher does not feel the use of performance-enhancing drugs is a pressing concern in the sport of hockey.
But if Bettman's appearance at the Washington hearing leads to stricter rules against such substance abuse, the Ottawa Senators forward feels the game will be better for it.
"I don't really think it's a problem," Fisher said. "The stats show that it was not much of a concern in hockey.
"But if it results in more regulations, that's a good thing too."
Selig said Monday he would support Stearns' legislation if the players' union refused to strengthen baseball's existing policy.
"I believe that expeditious, effective changes in our agreement (with the MLB Players' Association) ... is a course of action far preferable to federal legislation on this issue," Selig said in an open letter on MLB's website.
Meanwhile, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue is scheduled to appear before the committee tomorrow.
THE FAME GAME
Dmitri Khristich in the Hockey Hall of Fame? It's enough to make a Maple Leafs fan shudder.
And while it's a good bet that it will never happen, Khristich is on the list of first-timers eligible for the Hall, one that also includes Mike Vernon, John Vanbiesbrouck, Gary Suter, Kevin Stevens, Rick Tocchet, Pat Verbeek, Stephane Richer, Ray Ferraro, Bob Probert, Dave Manson, Benoit Hogue, Michel Petit and Joe Reekie.
Because the list lacks star power, players who have been passed over in previous years will get a long look from the Hall of Fame selection committee when it meets June 8.
Dino Ciccarelli, former Leaf Glenn Anderson and the ever-consistent Steve Larmer lead those candidates who did not make it in the past. Ciccarelli scored 608 NHL goals, Anderson lit the red light 498 times and Larmer compiled 1,012 career points.