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The Globe and Mail

Fines: say what you want, but you're going to pay

So when the general manager of a marquee franchise blames a league official of roasting them on a pivotal video review not only once but twice already this season costing them the game each time, and accuses said official of deep-seated personal jealousy as the reason along the way, well, how much does the NHL fine him for that? Seriously.

We're thinking that Dean Lombardi, general manager of the LA Kings is going to be writing a significant cheque to the NHL Foundation.

A quick recap: The Kings are in a tie game with the Coyotes when it appears that Phoenix's Martin Hanzal, standing in front the net, knocked the puck out of the air and past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick while the puck was above shoulder height.

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A video review back in the l eague offices in Toronto led by Mike Murphy, the NHL's senior vice president of hockey operations, ruled that the goal would stand and afterward Lombardi accused Murphy or bias because the former Kings winger and coach turned video room denizen wanted the general manager's job that belongs to Lonmbardi. (See item No.2 from the previous post)

Since the quote was on the Kings official web site we can assume Lombardi will dispense with the "I was misquoted" defense, and so the question is how much will he be fined?

The hilarious people in the Globe sports dept. have weighed in already: I plucked $50,000 out of the air and suggested it would be higher if Murphy ending up missing any significant chunk of time for a hit from behind -- badumpbah! -- while Al Maki has already written Lombardi's apology for him:

"I would like to same I am sorry the NHL and senior vice-president of hockey operations Mike Murphy were offended by my recent comments. I'm sorry the NHL has such lousy officiating and review procedures. I apologize for questioning what is already a flawed process in need of revision. I am sincerely sorry we got hosed by a bad call when there were people in South America who saw it was a bad call but could not voice displeasure with Mr. Murphy, who is in Toronto and wanted this job.

"Thank you, with much apologies.

Dean Lombardi

Update: Lombardi has apologized for real; I still think he should have used Maki's script.

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Matthew Sekeres points out that bias among league officials is no big deal, really: Lombardi only gets fined if it's a crime to point out conflicts of interests in the NHL's hockey operations department. Because as we know, thanks to Colin "Venting Hockey Dad" Campbell, the conflict of interest itself is "much ado about nothing."

Anyway, back to the point: How much will Lombardi pay?

The NHL is pretty lenient, fine wise.

When Alex Burrows accused referee Stephane Auger of holding a personal bias against him it only cost him $2,500.

The apparent high point for coaches going off about officials seems to be $10,000 which is what the Chicago Black Hawks Joel Quennville had to pay during the 2009 playoffs for criticizing the officiating in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals in 2009. Quenneville was maddened by a roughing call that led to a power play against the Red Wings that he felt was the last straw in a 6-1 loss that gave Detroit a 3-1 series lead: "I think we witnessed probably the worst call in the history of sports there. Nothing play..."You know, they scored, it's 3-0. They ruined a good hockey game and absolutely destroyed what was going on the ice. ... Never seen anything like it."

There doesn't seem to be a lot of recent precedent in the NHL for team executives accusing high-ranking league officials of systemic bias.

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In other leagues the fines can be pretty harsh. In the NBA Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has paid an estimated $1.655-million in fines for various rants; his largest single fine was $500,000 in 2002 when he said of NBA director of officiating Ed Rush: "Ed Rush might have been a great ref, but I wouldn't hire him to manage a Dairy Queen."

Cuban matches his fines with charitable donations and made a splash that time by going to work at a Dairy Queen for a day.

Earlier this season Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress got clipped for $35,000 for complaining about officiating in a loss to the Minnesota Vikings, saying "50 drunks in a bar" would have made the right call and then later revealing that a league official had admitted to him the call was incorrect.

The largest fine paid by an NFL coach was $500,000 which Bill Belichick had to fork over for videotaping opponents's workouts.

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