The Niedermayer fine
Slap Shots has learned that instead, the league has sought to punish Niedermayer by fining him approximately $500,000 of his $6.75M salary for missing training camp, unilaterally invoking Article 15.3 (f) of the CBA that reads, "For each day a Player does not report to Training Camp without his Club's permission, his pay will be reduced by 1/275th of his annual ... salary ... "You'll recall that, when word came out Niedermayer was returning after an extended hiatus, there was a bit of an uproar from some fans and media. After all, the fact Anaheim had two key veterans missing a portion of the season did allow them to skirt the cap in a sense, even if their return resulted in a deal that saw Andy McDonald dumped to St. Louis.
The league has instituted the fine, we're told, over the strong protests of Anaheim GM Brian Burke, who did give permission to the 34-year-old reigning Conn Smythe winner to miss camp and the early portion of the season while he contemplated retirement.
Brooks reports that Gary Bettman and the league are spinning this as a deterrent to missing training camp, a literal interpretation of the CBA to punish Niedermayer for an illegal 'holdout.' Burke's fighting the decision, and I imagine the NHLPA will be, too, which is why I'm surprised it took this long for the news to leak out.
Here's the full portion of the CBA that applies:
15.3(f) For each day a Player does not report during Training Camp without his Club’s permission, his pay shall be reduced by 1/275th of his annual Paragraph 1 NHL Salary specified in his SPC without limitation of any other contract rights it may have.Two things here:
(a) $500,000 works out to about 7.5 per cent of Niedermayer's salary this season. 1/275th of the $6.75-million is about $24,500, which means he's being docked for missing about three weeks. The Ducks opened training camp on Sept. 11 of last year; Niedermayer returned to their lineup more than three months later, forfeiting $2.6-million by not playing the opening 34 games of the season.
(b) More importantly, he obviously had permission from the Ducks to do so.
I honestly can't see the extra $500,000 in lost income deterring someone like Niedermayer from doing this again, so if that's the intent, it fails. He's already giving up a huge chunk of salary in order to sit and contemplate retirement; what's another 7 per cent?
Is what happened this season with the Ducks really about to become a widespread trend? And, if not, why come down on Niedermayer against the wishes of his team?
Someone in another front office is pushing for this.
UPDATE Bob McKenzie has his thoughts up at TSN.