Monday, April 21, 2008

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 ... "

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.
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.

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.
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19 Comments:

At 3:12 AM, April 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Brian Burke still a Genius?

Or has he officially gone back to being the self-promoting jackass he was in Vancouver?

And when the guys on Team 1040 gloat over his bloated playoff corpse on Monday, will Burke get his wife to call in to defend him while he refuses to go on air himself?

 
At 8:27 AM, April 21, 2008, Blogger FAUX RUMORS said...

1) We blame the Ducks lack of success squarely on to Neiedermayer! His (Leave of abscence) despite having a valid contract illustrated his total self centered nature which we believe had to rub off/resentment had to be felt.
2) Not to mention how it totally screwed up the Duck's off season roster moves. If we were Burke we'd never consider bringng back Nedermayer and behind the scenes ask the league to double the fine!

 
At 8:40 AM, April 21, 2008, Blogger Ghwomb said...

Why is only Niedermayer mentioned? Would not the same thing apply to Selänne?

 
At 8:59 AM, April 21, 2008, Anonymous Django said...

If I remember correctly, Selanne was a UFA and therefore didn't have a contract to violate with the Ducks (same deal with Forsberg, Joseph, McCarty). Niedermayer however was still under contract with Anaheim at the start of the season.

 
At 9:03 AM, April 21, 2008, Blogger Down Goes Brown said...

Will be interesting to see what happens the next time a player has to miss extended camp time for personal reasons, such as being with a sick family member. Will the league enforce the fine even though the team grants permission?

I agree with the intent here -- these sort of quasi-retirements hurt the integrity of the cap. But there has to be a better way to fix this.

 
At 9:04 AM, April 21, 2008, Anonymous BDH said...

I bet he doesn't pay a cent of this. Seems like any lawyer worth his salt latches on to that "without the club's permission" and makes it clear that he did have the Ducks' permission. Is there even a formal process for documenting said permission?

Regardless, I think it's been clear to everyone that the Ducks were ok with this the whole time. Rather than punish the player under an unrelated holdout clause, the league should adopt formal policies to address this and similar situations where the cap is undermined.

 
At 11:41 AM, April 21, 2008, Anonymous tapeleg said...

Seeing a loss of $500,000 not being a deterrent shows the disconnect between sports figures and the real world. That's half a million dollars for not showing up, and it won't stop him from doing it again? Thank goodness we have that salary cap.

 
At 11:42 AM, April 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wish the league were as swift to act in ensuring players like Holik and Ortmeyer Rangers get the signing bonuses they were due the Rangers prior to the lockout.

 
At 11:47 AM, April 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We beleive talking in third person is certainly a vain and self centered attempt at us being taken very seriously by all of I.

We believe Brian Burke is a good GM with a bigger mouth, us like to think of he as a Neanderthal with a law degree.

Me thinks Neidermeyer was well within his rights to sit out for as long as his boss felt it was okay. The Ducks be better with him than without him and every employer makes allowances based on value to the team.

 
At 11:57 AM, April 21, 2008, Blogger J. Michael Neal said...

Hey, look! Gary Bettman can engage in meaningless posturing. Who would have guessed?

This is stupid. The CBA created a giant loophole, that I spotted years ago. I'm only surprised that it took this long for some front office to take advantage of it. No arbitrator in the world is going to look at that clause and uphold a fine.

This also isn't something that the league offices can just decide to make a few rules about to solve. It's part of the collective bargaining agreement. They can't do anything about it unless the players' association is on board with it.

 
At 12:21 PM, April 21, 2008, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

Let's all reach deep and send some money to the league; between this and the octopus nonsense it's clear they need some more operating income.

 
At 12:48 PM, April 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peter Forsberg, Selanne , Scott N. all stole this idea from old roger clemens

 
At 12:48 PM, April 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guess Buffalo owes Teppo money for him sitting out if we use the NHLs reverse permission logic.

 
At 1:17 PM, April 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is interesting...did the Ducks not suspend Neidermayer to avoid having his salary hitting their cap for the first few months? Regardless of whether this was a "wink wink" suspension between Burke and Niedermayer, typically a suspension intimates "without permission". So now if Burke is arguing it was with permission to dispute the fine, should Niedermayer's salary not have counted against the cap?? The NHL needs to prevent this from happening again through either fine to player or cap hit against team...it cannot be neither.

 
At 2:09 PM, April 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The real question isn't if he had permission or not, it's why, if he had permission, did the Ducks feel it was necessary to suspend him (and thus eliminate his salary from cap calculations)?

 
At 2:33 PM, April 21, 2008, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

why, if he had permission, did the Ducks feel it was necessary to suspend him (and thus eliminate his salary from cap calculations)?

A question with a built-in answer.

 
At 6:12 PM, April 21, 2008, Blogger voxel said...

Will be interesting to see what happens the next time a player has to miss extended camp time for personal reasons, such as being with a sick family member. Will the league enforce the fine even though the team grants permission?

Hasn't this happened this year already? The Wild? But they still kept the player on the books or paid him. What about Chad Kilger?
BTW this fine is all about TC only not the regular season.

Guess Buffalo owes Teppo money for him sitting out if we use the NHLs reverse permission logic.

Buffalo's management is a bunch of cheapo bastards. They should have paid him like other teams have done (Wings + Oilers) when their player has an health issue. I hope no UFAs sign with the Sabres while the current management is there.

 
At 12:41 AM, April 22, 2008, Blogger Nick said...

Bob McKenzie's article makes this entire situation much clearer.

The real question is why this wasn't pursued until now - unless they just wanted to keep quiet until the season was over

 
At 10:08 AM, April 22, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we find Bob McKenzie a more credible source than Larry Brooks, then I think the situtaion is clear. Since the Ducks suspended Niedermeyer in order to clear cap space then Niedermeyer needs to pay the fine. If Burke and Niedermeyer were complicit in trying to circumvent the cap then you have to pay the associated penalties. Then again, since it is Burke I'm sure he will get a free pass from the NHL.

This is the deterent to picking and choosing when you wish to return that so many people have complained about. If a player wants time off and is willing to pay for it then good luck. -Hockey1919

 

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