Ottawa Senators center Shane Pinto has found himself in hot water after being handed a surprising 41-game suspension by the NHL for violating the league’s gambling rules, according to an official statement from the league. This incident marks the first gambling-related suspension since online gambling was introduced in the NHL.
The league’s investigation has revealed that Pinto did not place bets on any NHL games, and they consider the matter resolved.
“I would like to apologize to the National Hockey League, the Ottawa Senators, my teammates, the fans, the city of Ottawa, and most importantly, my family,” expressed Pinto in a statement. “I take full responsibility for my actions and eagerly look forward to getting back on the ice with my team.”
Pinto is currently a restricted free agent and has yet to sign a new contract. Consequently, he has not played in any games so far during the 2023-24 season.
“Shane is an invaluable member of our hockey club; a charismatic and intelligent young man who unfortunately made some poor decisions resulting in his suspension by the National Hockey League,” stated the Senators in an official release. “We believe he is genuinely remorseful for his mistakes.
“The Ottawa Senators wholeheartedly comply with the NHL’s rules on gambling. While we are disheartened by this turn of events, the entire organization stands behind Shane and will work together to offer the necessary support for him to address his issues and eventually make positive contributions to our community. When the time is right and with the league’s approval, we will welcome him back into the organization and embrace him as one of our own.”
Earlier this month, Pinto had been training individually in Ottawa as he awaited a new contract.
Despite not having a signed contract, Pinto’s suspension will be retroactive to the first game of the Senators’ season, according to Sportsnet reporter Elliotte Friedman. Therefore, the commencement of the suspension is not dependent on him signing a contract with the team.
As per the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement, gambling on any NHL game is strictly prohibited. However, players are allowed to engage in gambling activities related to other sports if they so choose.
Pinto was originally drafted by the Senators in the second round of the 2019 NHL Draft. The young center had an impressive debut NHL season in 2022-23, recording 35 points (20 goals and 15 assists) over the course of 82 games.
Pinto’s situation is particularly intriguing since players typically need to have a contract signed by December 1st in order to participate in any games during the 2023-24 season. However, suspended players still count toward the salary cap, and the Senators do not have the necessary cap space to offer Pinto a contract within the lower salary range.
The specific details of how exactly Pinto violated the league’s gambling rules have not been disclosed at this time.