Flames president weighs in on Air Canada
WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency
Air Canada is a major sponsor and key mover of several NHL teams.
But in the wake of the company’s criticism and threat to withdraw sponsorship if something isn’t done to crack down on dangerous hits, Calgary Flames president Ken King stressed that league decisions shouldn’t be “impacted or influenced” by outside interests.
After Wednesday’s announcement that Boston Bruins blueliner Zdeno Chara wouldn’t be suspended for riding Montreal Canadiens winger Max Pacioretty into the stanchion between benches, Air Canada fired off a letter to the league, stating “we are having difficultly rationalizing our sponsorship of hockey unless the NHL takes responsibility to protect both the players and the integrity of the game.”
The governors of all six Canadian NHL teams also received a copy of the letter.
On Thursday afternoon, King cautioned the NHL can’t allow its corporate partners to influence disciplinary decisions.
“We respect anyone’s opinion on our sport, but we would disagree with using an approach that suggested that decisions could be influenced by other commercial arrangements,” King said. “We respect Air Canada’s point of view — that they have one and that they obviously feel passionate about it — but we would disagree with their approach to making their point by suggesting they would withdraw their sponsorship.
“I think they’re completely separate issues and need to be dealt with separately, and that’s really the Calgary Flames’ point of view.”