Canucks fined $50K for GM's comments about Stamkos, Subban

The NHL has slapped the Vancouver Canucks organization with a $50,000 US fine for their general manager's violation of a league by-law that prohibits clubs speaking about their interest in players currently under contract to other teams.

Vancouver's Jim Benning made offending statements ahead of NHL Draft

Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning said the team would be contacting Steven Stamkos, even though the Tampa Bay forward hasn't officially hit free agency yet. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The NHL has slapped the Vancouver Canucks organization with a $50,000 US fine for violating NHL by-law 15 – which deals with tampering – the league announced on Tuesday.

"Canucks general manager Jim Benning violated the provisions of NHL by-law 15 relating to inappropriate public comments by speaking generally to his club's potential interest in players under contract to other NHL clubs," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement.

"I spoke with Jim and accept his representation that he intended no harm with his comments and that he will handle similar questions from the media differently in the future."

Benning told a Vancouver radio station on Thursday he intended to contact Steven Stamkos' agent about the pending free agent's interest in Vancouver.

Window of opportunity opened days later

NHL rules bar teams from discussing their interest in players who are under contract. The one exception is during a window of opportunity that opened on Saturday, when all teams are allowed to contact pending free agents, but not allowed to sign them until July 1.

Benning spoke two days before that window opened.

Benning might have crossed the line further during the interview when he revealed the Canucks have contacted Montreal about acquiring star defenceman P.K. Subban, who is signed through the 2021-22 season.

"The price would be really high to acquire a player like that," Benning said. "We've done our due diligence, like we do with all the players who are out there. But it's a long way from completing a trade like that."

Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin told reporters afterward that Benning "crossed the line" in divulging trade conversations involving Subban. Bergevin was forced to speak out on the subject last Thursday, insisting that he was not shopping Subban but only listening to inquiries from opposing teams.

With files from The Canadian Press