In a perfect world, Alex Formenton and Shane Pinto would be skating for the Ottawa Senators right now, helping them win hockey games. Instead, they both remain restricted free agents for reasons that have nothing to do with hockey or contracts.
Last year, it was Formenton, who’s been connected to the 2018 World Junior/Hockey Canada investigation into an alleged sexual assault. The Senators have clearly opted to put things on hold with him until that matter is resolved, if it ever is. He’s playing in Switzerland in the meantime.
Now it looks like Pinto has been in a similar holding pattern. It would appear that the reason he hasn’t been re-signed yet had less to do with Ottawa’s shortage of salary cap room and more about a league investigation into Pinto’s gambling violations that reportedly began back in the summer.
Today, Pinto was suspended 41 games by the NHL, which made this statement:
The National Hockey League announced today that it has suspended NHL Player Shane Pinto for 41 games for activities relating to sports wagering.
The League’s investigation found no evidence that Pinto made any wagers on NHL games.
The NHL considers this matter closed, absent the emergence of new information, and will have no further comment.
Here’s the statement from the team:
“We were made aware of the National Hockey League investigation into this matter and additional information was made available to the club upon the completion of the league’s investigation yesterday.
Shane is a valued member of our hockey club; an engaging, intelligent young man who made poor decisions that have resulted in a suspension by the National Hockey League. We know he is remorseful for his mistakes.
The Ottawa Senators fully support the NHL’s rules on gambling. While saddened to learn of this issue, the entire organization remains committed to Shane and will work together to do what is necessary to help provide the support to allow him to address his issues and become a strong contributor to our community.
When the time is right and with the league’s blessing, we will welcome him back to the organization and embrace him as one of our own.”
And finally, the apology from Shane Pinto:
“I want to apologize to the National Hockey League, the Ottawa Senators, my teammates, the fans and city of Ottawa and most importantly my family. I take full responsibility for my actions and look forward to getting back on the ice with my team.”
It sounds like all parties are satisfied with the resolution and ready to move on. But fans are left wondering why the NHL would continue to shove gambling down their throats, heavily promoting gambling websites on NHL broadcasts; uniforms; equipment; online properties and more, and yet be so sensitive to a player betting on pro sports.
The answer may be this. If a player bets on pro sports, even if it’s not the NHL, he might end up with a huge debt he can’t pay. At that point, the player might be offered a chance to pay off his debt by influencing an NHL result. But if that’s what the NHL believes about that world, should they really be in that world?
Pinto’s suspension apparently includes time served. So his earliest return date would be in January, 35 games from now.