• The Curious Case of Gilbert Brule

    by  • June 20, 2009 • Uncategorized • 46 Comments

    Those of you who don’t read OilersNation will have missed a bizarre dispute over Gilbert Brule’s waiver status for 2009-10. It all started as a result of Jason Gregor’s answer to a question from a reader about the waiver status of Oilers players next season. Gregor (a professional reporter) responded:

    Gilbert Brule doesn’t have to clear waivers at the start of the year, but once he plays three NHL games then he would have to.

    Rob Schremp, Devon Dubnyk and Liam Reddox don’t have to clear waivers. They have only played three pro years, and have yet to play 160 NHL games, plus they are under 25. I have no idea why anyone would think Reddox needs to clear waivers. If a player has played four years pro, then he has to clear waivers regardless of how many NHL games he has played, or if he is over 25 years of age when the season starts.

    Chorney and Peckham don’t have to clear.

    Bubble guys that need to clear are Pouliot, MacIntyre, Jacques, Potulny (although I don’t think he has a chance of making team) and Stone.

    Frequent Oilogosphere commenter (and occasional blogger) speeds had actually just posted about this very topic at his own site and he responded as follows:

    I’ve mentioned this before, but both Schremp and Brule need to clear waivers.

    Brule because he played over 11 games as a 19 year old in 06/7, so his waiver exemption drops to 3 years and those 3 years are over.

    Schremp signed at 19, and only gets 4 years from when he signs (not the number of pro years played). Those 4 years are over, he has to clear waivers this fall.

    The rules are different for goalies, so Dubnyk has one more year without waivers.

    Not sure on Reddox.

    Gregor, who has previously chararacterized bloggers as “…nameless, faceless people who write their opinions” and complained “…there are too many false facts in blogs” came back with the following:

    YOU ARE WRONG…it doesn’t matter when Schremp signs, it matters how many years he PLAYS…As for Brule wrong again. He doesn’t have to clear waivers. I have no idea why you think playing 19 games as a 19 year-old changes that. I’ve spoke with Rick Olczyk many times and neither are waiver eligible next year. Same as Reddox.

    Just because you said it before that Brule is a free agent doesn’t make it right. Your info or interpretation is completely wrong. I know this 100% since I spoke with Rick this week.

    After much discussion, and a lengthy digression from Gregor about some problems he had with attribution earlier this year, it seemed to be generally agreed that speeds was right: Gregor’s understanding of the rule was wrong. To his credit, Gregor went back to the Oilers and Brule’s management to try and find out what the answer was. He came up with the following:

    For Brule he in fact cleared waivers once before, so because of that it is his GP that comes into play now.

    Rick [Olczyk, the Oilers assistant GM] called me just as I was returning on air, so I couldn’t get into the other players, but when he returns from Vegas we will.

    I never knew that Brule cleared waivers before, and we didn’t have time to get into the exact specifics, but that was the explanation Rick gave us. So He was correct the entire time which shouldn’t surprise anyone.

    This was somewhat difficult to understand, given that the general understanding in Edmonton last year was that Brule wouldn’t have to clear waivers last year until he played in his 160th NHL game. The Oilers, who have historically been loathe to expose anyone with promise to waivers, waived Gilbert Brule when they didn’t have to? How does that make any sense?

    It was widely assumed that the Oilers were playing with his service time, doing whatever they could to avoid having Brule hit the 160 game mark because they wanted to be able to send him back down to the minors in order to avoid having to expose him to waivers. Robin Brownlee even wrote a story about Brule on January in which Brule talked about his own awareness of the rules:

    “It’s in the back of my mind,” Brule said of the waiver rules under the CBA. “I look at my games played and it’s part of the rules, but I’m just trying to go out there and play the best I can with the chances I’m given.”

    Things got weirder. Gregor proceeded to get the following:

    I did hear back from Brule’s representatives and they confirmed he had been waived.

    They told me that according the to the NHLPA Brule played 12 games as an 18 year old, not the seven that is on nhl.com or hockeydb.com, which on the outside doesn’t seem to make much sense.

    So with that being the case he was waiver eligible last season, so he had to clear waivers, it wasn’t a case of the Oilers just doing it.

    On the outside looking in that doesn’t make much sense and the representatives agreed, but since he has already cleared waivers they have agreed that the 160 GP is the point when he will need to clear waivers again.

    NHL.com has the game summary from that year, and it looks like he played the first two games, and then got into five from Nov 20 to Nov 30. I didn’t check the rest because I have to run to a meeting, but when I do I will see if there are any other games he was on the game sheet. Strange.

    I now have a call into the NHLPA to see what they have to say. Interesting.

    This makes even less sense. I checked and he played six preseason games, so I don’t think that it’s anything related to that – the CBA doesn’t include them, it makes no sense for them to be included and 7+6 does not equal 12. Perhaps more obviously, if Brule had played 12 games in 2005-06, a year should have been burned off of this entry level contract and he should have been a restricted free agent last summer, which he wasn’t.

    I should add as well that I don’t think that Brule’s representatives are right that, assuming he’s cleared waivers, 160 games played is the point where he has to again clear waivers. My reading of the CBA is that the exemption that comes from having cleared waivers expires at the end of the season – a guy has to again clear waivers the following season. Thomas Pock illustrates this point – he cleared waivers after playing one game in 2007-08, spent the year in the AHL and was claimed by the Islanders at the start of the 2008-09 season when the Rangers again tried to send him to the minors.

    Brule’s suffered some fairly serious injuries in 2005-06, spraining his sternum in the second game of the season, returning the lineup on November 20, 2005 and then breaking his leg on November 30, 2005. He does not appear on the roster for any games between November 30, 2005 and January 12, 2006. On January 12, 2006, he was returned to the Vancouver Giants of the WHL. He was dressing in games for Vancouver by January 20, 2006. Brule did not play twelve games in 2005-06, no matter what the NHLPA says.

    If you take the explanation offered by the Oilers and Brule’s at face value, it means that Brule would have had to clear waivers when he went down to the minors at the start of the year, as a player who started his three year waiver clock in the 2005-06 season. Assuming he clears waivers at the start of the season, he can then be called up and sent down without having to clear waivers until he plays 10 games (cumulative) since regular waivers were last cleared or spends 30 days (cumulative) on an NHL roster.

    He was recalled on December 5, 2008 and then assigned to Springfield on December 12, 2008. He was again recalled to Edmonton on December 31, 2008 and then re-assigned to Springfield on January 21, 2009. I don’t see the days on Edmonton’s roster as being a problem – I could thirty days, maximum – but by dressing him in 11 games, my reading of the waiver rules is that he would have had to pass waivers a second time before going down to Springfield on January 21, 2009. I would be surprised if the Oilers could have sent him down a second time without clearing waivers by holding him out of two games but that they elected not to do so.

    Looking at this from a wider perspective, it should be noted that waivers are (generally speaking) to the benefit of the player. Before you have to go and make AHL money, every team in the NHL gets a crack at taking you. For the teams, they’re a negative – you have a player who is under your control that you’re required to expose to other teams in the NHL. I would be surprised if the Oilers were passing Brule through waivers on the basis that he played 12 games in the 2005-06 season when he obviously didn’t.

    Having thought all of this through, I honestly don’t know what to think. I cannot see a single explanation for Brule having had to clear waivers last year. The other indicia that I would expect to see if this were true, (his entry level contract having expired and the Oilers limiting him to nine games last season), aren’t present. It is exceedingly difficult to understand the unanimity of the Oilers and (particularly) Brule’s agents on this point, given that the explanation makes absolutely no sense and there doesn’t seem to be a plausible reading of the CBA that supports any of this.

    About

    46 Responses to The Curious Case of Gilbert Brule

    1. lowetide
      June 20, 2009 at

      Without being a jerk about this (and I know Jason Gregor, he’s a decent sort) do we have anyone aside from Jason who has offered information that runs counter to the prevailing (speeds) wisdom?

      I guess what I’m asking for is verification from (another) media source.

    2. mc79hockey
      June 20, 2009 at

      In fairness to Gregor, he’s reporting on conversations that he had. It starts to get increasingly difficult to blame him for confusing the issue when he keeps getting the same explanation repeated to him. With that said, I would love for someone who has a solid grasp of the CBA, which Jason doesn’t, to have a discussion with Brule’s agents or Olczyk about it.

      Matheson had a note that Brule wouldn’t be eligible for waivers until he’d played 160 games. He’s not great on CBA issues though.

      The fact that everyone is still talking about 160 games simply does not make any sense to me. I’ve stared at the sections in detail and as far as I can tell, the 160 games ceases to be a relevant criteria once the three years are up. So either the three years were up as of the end of 2007-08 or they were up as of the end of this season. No matter what though, the three years are definitely up and, IMO, the 160 games ceases to be relevant.

      The answer to all of this might be that Olczyk is going to take an extremely aggressive position in terms of interpreting the CBA. There was indication during the Jagr thing that the Oilers figured that they had a stunt that they could pull on waivers. Bill Daly didn’t seem to think that they necessarily did.

      Without a real explanation from Olczyk, extracted by somebody who knows what questions to ask, it’s very difficult to evaluate this from the outside.

    3. June 20, 2009 at

      What’s especially strange about this is the idea the Brule passed through waivers without anybody noticing. Even if the Oilers were circumspect about it and didn’t put out a press release, it still should have made it into the transaction wire on TSN, NHL.com, etc. There’s no trace of it on the net.

      So, it goes against standard Oilers behaviour to expose decent assets to waivers; Brule wasn’t aware of having passed through waivers; it never showed up in the news (AFAIK); and it doesn’t jibe with the Oilers carefully avoiding the 160 days all season long.

      I don’t buy it.

    4. mc79hockey
      June 20, 2009 at

      Waivers are generally private, unless someone leaks them. As far as I know, they don’t have to be announced. With that said, I would think that Brule’s presence on the waiver wire would have been a bit of a story and that somebody would have handed the story to someone. Otherwise, I pretty much agree.

    5. June 20, 2009 at

      Ah, okay. I just assumed that there was some sort of generally available list from the NHL Central Registry.

      At very least, though, shouldn’t Brule have known about it?

    6. mc79hockey
      June 20, 2009 at

      Yes, I think Brule should have known about it. His comments to Brownlee don’t make a lot of sense if he knows that he was waived at the start of the year and cleared waivers.

    7. mc79hockey
      June 20, 2009 at

      Sorry, when I say he should have known about it, I mean that they’re required to tell him.

    8. CruJones
      June 20, 2009 at

      Aside from the issue at hand, which I am going to assume not even those involved are 100% sure of, there seems to be some serious arrogance and contradiction going on by some of the more “weighty” folks in the Oilers blog world.

      I can only guess what the attribution discussion that you had with Gregor was, but coming from a journalistic background myself, any problem in that area is something that a “nameless, faceless person who writes their opinions” should not have to remind a paid journalist (I use the term loosely towards some of the Oilers media) of.

      Dating back to the whole blogging from the press box debate that popped up last year, the amount hypocrisy on the part of those who deem themselves as established media is rather astounding, given the fact that many in the blog world are offering far more insightful commentary (and that’s what this all is, isn’t it?) than those who are being paid to do so.

    9. June 20, 2009 at

      I must admit that the explanation that Brule had already in fact cleared waivers doesn’t make much sense at all. It would be interesting to hear from Rick Olcyk on the issue. It seems like Gregor has a pretty good working relationship with Willis. Maybe he would let Willis interview Olcyk on his radio show and we could hear what Olcyk has to say first-hand. There’s at least a part of the explanation that’s not coming through, probably because Gregor isn’t asking (the right) follow-up questions. Kudos to him for checking with Olcyk and with Brule’s agent though.

    10. speeds
      June 20, 2009 at

      Nice catch on the 12 games thing MC, if he’d played 12 games that season he should have been an RFA last summer. Additionally, if Brule had played 12 games in 05/6 he would now be at 162 games and thus past the 160 game threshold as well. Why would the NHLPA think he’s at 12 games played? All I can think is it’s something to do with his injuries, but I don’t know.

      I suppose that could make some sense of Brule having to be waived last season though, even though it seems extraordinarily far fateched. Not only far fetched that it happened, but also that we never heard about it. But if Brule were given credit, after the fact, for 12 games in 05/6 credit for the 5 extra games in 05/6 happened , that means he would have had to clear waivers after his 9th game for the Oilers last season. If it were the case that he had 162 games when sent down on Jan 22, he would have had to clear waivers at that time. I think that is really reaching.

      The other problem with Brule having gone on waivers is that means all 29 other teams passed. Doesn’t seem very likely to me that 29 other teams would have passed on a 21/22 year old drafted 6th overall in 2005. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I would find it surprising that Brule cleared waivers if he was offered.

      I would have thought the most likely explanation to be that something is being misunderstood in the exchange between Gregor and Olczyk, but based on the information from Brule’s representatives I don’t know what to think.

      Crujones:

      It’s funny, if I was/am a bit unsure about any of the three, it would be Schremp because the CBA isn’t crystal clear, IMO, about how they define age in this section nor what they mean by “Years from signing – NHL”. I’m pretty sure I understand what they mean in both cases, but if I were mistaken I wouldn’t be completely shocked, I suppose.

      If someone had been willing to bet me $1,000 on Brule being waiver eligible next fall, I’d have gladly bet that he is, I think/thought that was a lock.

      If it turns out that there was some unpublicized agreement that gave Brule credit for 12 GP in 05/6 instead of 7, but that agreement had no effect on when his contract was done, I won’t feel too bad for not having seen that coming.

    11. speeds
      June 20, 2009 at

      sorry for my 2nd paragraph, I guess I didn’t proofread that one. Here’s the corrected 2nd paragraph:

      I suppose that could make some sense of Brule having to be waived last season though, even though it seems extraordinarily far fateched. Not only far fetched that it happened, but also that we never heard about it. But if Brule were given credit, after the fact, for 12 games in 05/6, he would have had to clear waivers to be sent to the AHL after his 9th game for the Oilers last season. In that case, Brule would have had to clear waivers when he was sent down on Jan 22. I think that is really reaching.

    12. mc79hockey
      June 20, 2009 at

      Speeds – I think that you’re right about everything. I think Schremp is waiver eligible next year. What does that give them up front in terms of guys who have to clear waivers then?

      Hemsky
      Horcoff
      Penner
      Stortini
      Pisani
      Moreau
      Cogliano
      Nilsson
      Brodziak
      Pouliot
      O’Sullivan

      Reddox
      Brule
      Potulny
      Jacques
      MacIntyre
      Schremp
      Stone

      That’s 18 guys. Gagner’s got five more games, so they can slide him into the minors if they need the roster spot. Unless some of them are leaving town via trade at the draft or not getting contracts, I’m not sure what the Oilers will do. If you figure that Gagner will probably make the team out of training camp, that means five of these guys are getting exposed to waivers.

      There’s a lot of bottom end roster filler there. I’d assume Potulny and Stone get exposed to waivers, given that they’re not Oiler picks. That means that three of Reddox, Brule, Jacques, MacIntyre and Schremp will be exposed. We’ll have to wait until some of these guys do deals with the Oilers to see which way they’re leaning but my sense is that Quinn likes to have a scrapper around and with the amount of stuff that MacIntyre is doing in the community this summer, I suspect he’s been made some assurances – it would take a pretty sloppy organization to have him running all over the place and then kick him out the door.

      So Schremp, Reddox, Jacques and Brule: one spot. Awkward.

    13. kingsblade
      June 21, 2009 at

      I don’t know if this applies or not, but if Brule was quietly waived when he was sent down in January perhaps this section could apply.

      13.5 Waiver Expiration. The rights granted under this Article to Loan a Player(s)
      who is otherwise required to clear Regular Waivers to a minor league club expire for any
      Player(s) who, after clearing Regular Waivers:

      (i) is not Loaned to a minor league club, or is Recalled from a minor league club (except on emergency recall); and

      (ii) remains on an NHL roster for thirty (30) days (cumulative) or plays ten (10) NHL Games (cumulative).

      This might potentially suggest that if he was waived when sent down then the waiver hasn’t expired. I’m grasping a bit here, but the article mentions that the waiver period ends when the season ends, but it does not seem to say that waivers expire when the waiver season expires.

      I know it seems like a stretch, but I can’t stop looking for why the teams seems to think he’s exempt. It also does have some potential as a loophole unless I’m not seeing something important. (the most likely answer)

    14. mc79hockey
      June 21, 2009 at

      I gave some thought to that – hence the reference to Thomas Pock above. It may be that Olczyk wants to argue that it’s ambiguous but where you’ve got established practice such as Pock, I’ve got a hard time seeing how you could succeed.

    15. kingsblade
      June 21, 2009 at

      The move doesn’t seem to have been disputed though so maybe they aren’t accepting it as a precedent. I have no idea if this issue has been disputed or even discussed to this point. Seems like it probably would have been though.

      I dunno. I’m with you on the likelihood that this argument works, but so far it’s the best explanation I’ve found.

    16. June 21, 2009 at

      Scott:

      If my name comes to mind when thinking of people who understand the CBA, it really shouldn’t ;)

      I try, but I’m pretty clueless on some of that legalese and so I generally wait until Tyler or Speeds or someone else translates it for me.

    17. June 21, 2009 at

      To be honest Jonathan, your name came to mind as someone that can interact cordially with Jason Gregor. He didn’t seem too friendly with either Tyler or Speeds in the thread that Tyler linked to here. Further, you’re intelligent enough that if you decided to really know the waiver protocol that you could do it and ask good questions to the pro (Olczyk).

    18. June 21, 2009 at

      Perhaps Gregor might be cordial with Jonathan or Lowetide. Perhaps not, since they are lowly bloggers. Frankly, in his denunciation of bloggers in general and the gentlemanly and knowledgeable Speeds in particular on his own (ahem) blog, Gregor came across as an arrogant asshole.

      I rarely listen to his talk show: does he treat his nameless, faceless callers the same way (like dirt)? This guy could use a lesson in humility.

    19. June 21, 2009 at

      Bruce said:
      I rarely listen to his talk show: does he treat his nameless, faceless callers the same way (like dirt)?

      I haven’t listened to his show since shortly after he moved into Stauffer’s spot. My impression was that he expresses incredulity and goes off on rants as a way of keeping things interesting. So, yeah, part of his shtick is being a bit of a dick to those who disagree with him.

      I didn’t find him to be particularly insightful, and he clearly isn’t as well connected as Stauffer was. In Gregor’s case, there’s not much substance to back up the attitude.

      Obviously he has his followers, and good for them, I guess. I’m not one of them, though.

    20. Rick
      June 22, 2009 at

      I was following both exchanges Gregor had with you guys on the CBA. The cap confusion and now this waiver confusion.

      I am not sure how many of you guys follow up the comments at Oilers Nation by listening to his show but both times there was on air follow up about these topics.

      Anyways, although I don’t recall the exact quotes both times he tried to clarify his conversation with Olzcyk he repeated the question he asked.

      Both times I understood the question he was asking to be different from what was trying to answer on the blog.

      I would think that particularily when you are asking about something that refers to a document like the CBA, one word changed here or there is enough to completely change the answer you will get back.

    21. Kris
      June 22, 2009 at

      Here we see how the MSM’s claim that “access” makes their stuff more reliable and informative is a half-truth at best.

      For example, Gregor has “access” to Olcyk and Brule’s agents. But both Olcyk and Brule’s people aren’t accountable to Gregor or us. They can say pretty much anything, be vague, lie, distort, or just start talking without being sure what they’re saying, and there will be no real repurcussions. That is, Gregor has no leverage with the people he talks to.

      The situation is a little different with real, non-sports, journalism, where “access” works differently. If a politician gets caught lying or refuses to answer questions consistently, it can possibly cost him his career. Not so with sports management, agents, etc. They are under no compulsion to give out information at all. They can just say ‘no comment’ forever.

      Moreover, in sports “journalism” the people with access, in this case Gregor, have no stake in really digging up information or exposing misinformation. The majority of Gregor’s listeners don’t care about Brule’s waiver eligibility and the intricacies of the NHL collective bargaining agreement. Most people want trade rumors, even if unsubstantiated, or to hear people whine about a star player’s failure to perform, or how great a tough guy’s recent fight was. This is why Gregor’s show is mostly about his reaction to callers. This is also why Gregor doesn’t bother learning more about the cap so that he will be more able to question Olcyk effectively: why would Gregor spend his time on this?

      That is, where we might want Gregor to be Edward R Murrow, he really doesn’t have the leverage or the incentive. Rather, he has every incentive to be Liz Smith (famous NYP gossip columnist). BTW, socialite gossip columnists have “access” too…

      So, I’m okay with Gregor and Brownlee. They can be funny and I read their stuff, because the team occasionally uses them as a glorified way of putting out press releases that could just go up on oilers.nhl.com: injury reports, roster updates, etc.

      And in the future, I’m not going to get mad at their claims of blogging superiority, because that’s just part of their schtick too. It’s like talk radio guys like Limbaugh, they exagerate for entertainment value. They don’t do it consciously, but they learn it, and it’s that disposition to overeact shout that makes them entertaining to the masses.

      So do like I’ve started to do and laugh at Gregor. Because if you’re not laughing at the clowns, you’re part of the act.

    22. Kris
      June 22, 2009 at

      That first sentence should read ‘local sports journalists’ not ‘MSMs’

    23. June 22, 2009 at

      Well said, Kris. It’s worth emphasizing that fear of losing “access” is often the reason that sports journalists lack critical bite.

      I’ve heard several sports media types decry bloggers for their “lack of accountability” — that is to say, it’s a lot easier to criticize Kevin Lowe when you don’t have to confront him face to face the next day. The media types make it sound like this proves they have big cojones, because they’re willing to stand up to somebody in person after writing or saying something negative about them.

      While there’s some merit to that, this form of “accountability” is a double-edged sword. It may keep baseless gossip and really nasty invective in check, but it also leads to watered down analysis and self-censorship. If you ask someone a hard question or criticize them too much, maybe you run the risk of losing access to them altogether, and therefore risk losing your job. Maybe you run the risk of getting pummeled by a muscle-bound athlete, as is implied by the “say it to my face” nature of this kind of accountability.

      Let’s face it: tough-edged journalism as a whole has been on the wane for a long time, not just in sports coverage. But the fact that bloggers like Mudcrutch don’t have access in the first place (nothing to lose there) and aren’t subject to the “face-to-face” pressure (and implied physical intimidation that sometimes comes with it) allows for freer, more incisive commentary. Maybe it can go to far because it is lacking the checks and balances of “accountability” and “access”, but the flip side is that those pressures mean that the mainstream journalists often can’t go far enough.

    24. Tyler
      June 22, 2009 at

      Both times I understood the question he was asking to be different from what was trying to answer on the blog.

      I would think that particularily when you are asking about something that refers to a document like the CBA, one word changed here or there is enough to completely change the answer you will get back.

      Yeah, I agree with this. I was going to write a lengthy response to Gregor’s 51 in the ON thread but decided against it (or, I suppose, did it here instead). He doesn’t write or speak precisely, which is fine when you’re screaming at someone about the merits of the fifth defenceman but makes it very difficult to get accurate information about the cap.

    25. sketchy
      June 23, 2009 at

      I’m just changing all mu sigs to ‘Gregor=Not Wrong’

    26. sketchy
      June 23, 2009 at

      MY sigs

    27. Dennis
      June 25, 2009 at

      I find it really odd that people we treated rudely over at Oilersnation.

    28. Travis Dakin
      June 25, 2009 at

      The only people that get treated rudely over there are the ones that tend to toss out the most bombs. Unfortunately now with the increased traffic they tend to get a lot of ill representation. As for the issues with Gregor, obviously any one of us who is not a lawyer would be absolutely adamant about being right on an issue when you’ve had the guy in charge of said issue telling you what is right. Wether it is liked or not, as it stands now, Gregor was right about Brule not needing to cleat waivers.

    29. Tyler
      June 25, 2009 at

      As for the issues with Gregor, obviously any one of us who is not a lawyer would be absolutely adamant about being right on an issue when you’ve had the guy in charge of said issue telling you what is right. Wether it is liked or not, as it stands now, Gregor was right about Brule not needing to cleat waivers.

      The first sentence in this excerpt makes zero sense. As for Gregor being right, to start with, his initial explanation was clearly wrong and he acted like a dick while sticking it to speeds. The second explanation doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Whether that’s Gregor’s inability to report what he’s told or the Oilers misunderstanding of the CBA remains to be seen.

    30. Travis Dakin
      June 25, 2009 at

      Well Tyler, you being the resident lawyer would be the exception here. Speeds kept saying his piece and I will say, did so with zero sense of attitude. Gregor, who having been told by Olzcyk and Brule’s agent that Brule was in fact not eligible for waivers, was just very adamant that he was stating the facts. I didn’t see much sticking it to him. More so a guy who took information at face value from a credible source and obviously doesn’t have the legal credentials to recognize the red flags raised by yourself and Speeds. As I said earlier, as it stands right now, he is right. The explanation as to why he was/is right is irrelevant. He doesn’t have a clear enough understanding of the details to explain it to you. Fair enough, that is what guys like you spend so many years in school for, it’s some complicated shit. At the very least, the journalist in question here asked the guys who are paid to know the details (Olzcyk, Brule’s agent) and they all agreed with the original point that he was in fact, not eligible for waivers. So someone here is wrong. And that could be scary. It’s a simple question, “Is Brule eligible for waivers?” so far the answer is no. I’ll reserve judgement until the inevitable clarification of this issue.

      Having a tough time figuring out what you don’t understand about that first sentence. If Olzcyk told me he is not eligible and his agent said the same thing I’d be pretty adamant that he isn’t eligible. Think with your common man head for a second.

    31. kingsblade
      June 25, 2009 at

      Travis:

      The problem is that while Gregor has been told Brule is exempt there seems to be nothing in the CBA to support what he has been told. I don’t know how many times I’ve read the damn thing now, but it still says the same thing. There are a couple of vaguely written sections that possibly provide very weak loopholes, but I think a plain meaning reading of the document says his exemption is over.

      I think at this point the proper position is that he is not exempt until someone can demonstrate otherwise.

    32. kris
      June 25, 2009 at

      Travis:

    33. Travis Dakin
      June 25, 2009 at

      I totally agree that all signs seem to point to him not being exempt. Now I say that only after I’ve read what Tyler and Speeds and you have had to say. There just can’t be any way that he is exempt. However, I still will have to believe that he is not exempt, strictly because Olzcyk and Brule’s agent said so. I mean…. I have to believe that or this team is in far more trouble than I dared dream and Brule is in serious need of better representation.

    34. kris
      June 25, 2009 at

      Travis:

      YOU ARE WRONG… As to your sentence making sense, wrong again. Just because you say your sentence makes sense, doesn’t make it right. Your interpretation of your sentence must be 100% wrong because I just spoke to Tyler this week and he said so.

    35. Travis Dakin
      June 25, 2009 at

      Kris:

      Well played. HAHA

    36. linnaeus
      June 25, 2009 at

      I think something important is being missed here. The CBA is a bit like tax law. It is what a talented lawyer, agent, cap expert makes of it. You don’t know until a decision is reached if your argument has won the day but well it might.

      All Rick is saying to Gregor is that he thinks he has a really great argument for Brule not being waiver eligible. He is hardly, if he has a brain, going to share that argument with Brule’s agent, other teams, or the NHL until he can no longer avoid it. Then he is going to make the best argument he can and we’ll finally find out if he has a leg to stand on. Gregor’s ignorance isn’t of the details of the CBA for which he can be forgiven, or his faith in Rick to know what he’s doing with Brule and waiver eligibility which may be based on first hand judgement of the man’s competence. What is appalling is that he has no idea how the CBA is interpreted, arbitrated, and litigated. It isn’t carved in stone it is made anew each day and any sports report should be able to grasp that fundamental concept.

      Gregor’s attack on speeds was rude and ignorant but speeds was wrong to assume he knows the CBA better than Rick. All that matter is that Rick can argue better than whoever he is facing (agent, other teams CBA expert, NHL lawyers). Don’t know the guy so can’t say if he has either the cojones or the smarts to dance through the holes in the lace doily that is the CBA. However, that is the real issue here. Both speeds and Gregor were way too caught up in the trees to see the forest.

      As a reporter what I’d want to know is how often has Rick argued a point from the CBA or league cap rules and how has he performed. In today’s NHL you need your cap guy, your CBA expert to be star performers. Think what a great job Detroit’s guy did of bending the cap and the NHl to his will. Franzen is apparently going to play hockey forever.

      Is Rick a go to guy or not?

      I think we are going to find out soon enough.

    37. Travis Dakin
      June 26, 2009 at

      Well how in the hell could anyone argue with that? Game, set, match.

    38. RiversQ
      June 26, 2009 at

      Well how in the hell could anyone argue with that? Game, set, match.

      Posts like this are a major pet peeve of mine. How do you manage to type while holding the pom-poms?

      Anyway, I will argue with that.

      While I think it’s absolutely correct to say that the CBA is always subject to interpretation I think it’s also true that it evolves less and less over time as precedence accumulates.

      I think speeds, Tyler and others understand this and have merely stated that their own interpretation (and Tyler brought up precedents as well) directly contradicts whatever Olczyk’s plan could be. (If he indeed has a plan, which remains to be seen. I don’t see any particular reason to have confidence in him at this point.)

      So yeah, I think the whole post is basically semantics. No, it isn’t a case of “right vs. wrong” strictly speaking, but you can argue the plausibility of the Oilers’ position here. There’s always a chance it could fly through regardless of how poor the argument is, but I think we can agree that the less plausible it is, the less likely it is to succeed.

      Gregor? He’s just a blowhard lacking independent thought.

    39. linnaeus
      June 26, 2009 at

      I think perhaps my point got missed.

      I was suggesting that we know very little about how the CBA and the cap rules are for want of a better word “litigated”. Recent decisions haven’t turned out to be precedents. The league for example has recently rejected contracts from several teams that were modelled on the Franzen contract. Presumably, conspiracy theories aside, Holland, or whoever argued for Detroit said or did something different than subsequent teams have. It appears their argument had to do with the likelihood of a Detroit player doing a Chelios and playing forever. So apparently someone in the NHL head office bought the argument that because Detroit was lucky enough to sign Chris Chelios at the end of his career Jonathan Franzen would play to near the same age. They’ve gone on to say that because other teams don’t have Chelios they can’t do the same thing. Well maybe if they signed Mark Howe out of retirement. Somebody in Detroit did superb work. I am wondering how good Rick O. is at his job. Could he be Detroit good? So to that extent I agree with RiversQ, we don’t know how good Olczyk is and how good is plan, if he has one, is likely to perform in the real world.

      We don’t know because the media with access to him don’t seem to have the background to ask the right questions. These aren’t questions about the specifics of the CBA and the waiver clauses, this is where I disagree with RiversQ, it is about how well he can bend said agreement to the Oilers will. I’d love to know how well he’s doing, the access media could tell us, if they thought to ask the question. It is possible people like speeds could give us an idependent analysis.

      RiversQ I’d also be really curious to see you defend your position about the CBA getting more defined over time. It sure looks to me like the exact opposite is happening, each case and argument is being treated as so unique as to not be treated as a true precedent. I think the NHL in particular likes to retain a high level of confusion and uncertainty.

      My point merely was that nobody in the media or blogospehere is addressing the real issues surrounding the CBA and cap. How is it “litigated.” Who decides? How binding is precedent? Who are the best spin doctors in the business? What arguments are they using?

      It is not that I am deaf to the concerns that we may well have more contracts that are waiver eligible than positions to keep the players in the NHL. It is that I have no independent and informed reports on how good Rick is or isn’t or for that matter on how much wiggle room there is in the CBA. I know it is in vogue to assume the worst about all things and people copper and blue but in this specific case we lack the information to make any sort of call. What we need to know isn’t found in the pages of the CBA but in Rick’s real world performance which is something we should be able to evaluate quite well by this time. Yet nobody is bothering. Instead they are either parroting management or giving themselves massive headaches trying to interpret the CBA.

      I hope my point is clear this time. we need to know how good Rick is, not the minutae of the CBA.

    40. Oliver Wendell Holmes
      June 26, 2009 at

      The CBA is what Rick Olcyk says it is.

    41. Rick
      June 26, 2009 at

      I still don’t think this is a Rick Olcyk issue but a Jason Gregor issue.

      Gregor deserves some props for trying to tackle CBA issues through Olcyk because there are more than a few people that are interested in it.

      However if he is going to do that he owes it to the people that are using him as a resource to familiarize himself with the CBA as best as he can so that when he does go to Olcyk for an answer he atleast has the language, basic interpretation and understanding to ask and recieve an answer on a somewhat educated level.

      Tyler is an exception in that he is a lawyer by trade but there are alot of guys out there that have made the attempt to read through it out of curiosity and have walked away with a decent, even if it isn’t an intimate understanding of what it says. Speeds is clearly one of those guys, clearly a guy that has a better cursory understanding than Gregor and that is where the train went off the rails.

      When Speeds legitimately questioned what Gregory was asking he was outright dismissed and if that wasn’t enough Gregor comes back (it may have been on air instead of the blog)and said something to the effect that he had too much of a life to spend time reading the CBA.

      If that’s his position or even if it’s true that he doesn’t have time to read it then he is best to not try and answer questions or even hold a discussion with Olcyk on it all.

      Wrong info or interpretation is worse than no info at all.

    42. RiversQ
      June 26, 2009 at

      Linneaus said…
      I was suggesting that we know very little about how the CBA and the cap rules are for want of a better word “litigated”. Recent decisions haven’t turned out to be precedents. The league for example has recently rejected contracts from several teams that were modelled on the Franzen contract.

      I’m not aware of the previously rejected deals, which is certainly where my arguments veer off into speculation.

      However, I will say that the Brule situation is inherently different for a key reason. In the example of Franzen’s contract, there is no opposing voice other than that of the NHL. That is to say, they are presented with just the yea argument from the team and the player. It’s poor form for other teams to counter argue and furthermore in Franzen’s case it would be tampering if they even knew about it. Lastly, the union has something of a conflict of interest and is better suited to staying out of it altogether, methinks.

      In the case of Brule’s waiver eligibility, the NHL will have to deal with a counter-argument from his agent and then quite possibly one from the union. I could certainly see the NHLPA get behind a waiver case for obvious reasons because it would benefit all members.

      RiversQ I’d also be really curious to see you defend your position about the CBA getting more defined over time. It sure looks to me like the exact opposite is happening, each case and argument is being treated as so unique as to not be treated as a true precedent. I think the NHL in particular likes to retain a high level of confusion and uncertainty.

      Honestly, I don’t think I could present a case that truly holds water without looking into it further. But I find it very hard to believe that the NHL’s prior decisions do not tie their hands to a large degree in future dealings regarding the CBA. I’d love to hear how the Franzen contract would not be available as a precedent if anyone wanted such a deal again.

      I’d also like to know why you think the NHL wants confusion and uncertainty in this regard. I can’t really see that serving a useful purpose, since creative NHL front offices will continue to make challenges regardless of how rationally the NHL behaves. IMO, the loopier they are the more they invite challenges.

    43. Tyler
      June 26, 2009 at

      I was suggesting that we know very little about how the CBA and the cap rules are for want of a better word “litigated”. Recent decisions haven’t turned out to be precedents. The league for example has recently rejected contracts from several teams that were modelled on the Franzen contract.

      I hadn’t heard this either. In any event, the waivers issue is, in my mind, considerably different than approval of contract issues. Waivers have been around forever and it’s much less fertile ground for new arguments, IMO. One of the things about lawyering is that it’s much easier to argue a case in some ways when you aren’t dealing with past precedent.

      Presumably, conspiracy theories aside, Holland, or whoever argued for Detroit said or did something different than subsequent teams have. It appears their argument had to do with the likelihood of a Detroit player doing a Chelios and playing forever. So apparently someone in the NHL head office bought the argument that because Detroit was lucky enough to sign Chris Chelios at the end of his career Jonathan Franzen would play to near the same age. They’ve gone on to say that because other teams don’t have Chelios they can’t do the same thing.

      Do you have a link for any of this? I know that Staples had an “insider” tell him this but it looks like horseshit to me. The NHL does some crazy shit but I can virtually guarantee that this isn’t it. For one, the idea that Detroit has some sort of special ability to make players last forever is ridiculous. I don’t think that you can be interpreting the CBA on the basis of which team is seeking the interpretation.

      My guess is that the other contracts – which again, I haven’t heard of – pushed the envelope too much. Again, I think that this is very different from the waiver issue.

      To sum up, I just really don’t think that the waiver issue is there. I’ve looked for loopholes and I don’t see any. To add to that, if you read my original post, you see that accepting the explanation that Gregor reported from the agent makes absolutely zero sense on a number of different grounds.

    44. Tyler
      June 26, 2009 at

      But I find it very hard to believe that the NHL’s prior decisions do not tie their hands to a large degree in future dealings regarding the CBA. I’d love to hear how the Franzen contract would not be available as a precedent if anyone wanted such a deal again.

      I’d also like to know why you think the NHL wants confusion and uncertainty in this regard. I can’t really see that serving a useful purpose, since creative NHL front offices will continue to make challenges regardless of how rationally the NHL behaves. IMO, the loopier they are the more they invite challenges.

      I completely agree with Rivers on this point.

      Just more generally, I think that too much is being made of the skill of the lawyer or whatever involved. As a practical matter, facts are facts and as a lawyer, you’re stuck with the facts that you have. The case that Brule is waiver eligible looks far, far stronger to me than the case that he isn’t, which requires interpreting the rules in a fashion contrary to how they’ve been interpreted in the past.

    45. Tyler
      June 26, 2009 at

      When Speeds legitimately questioned what Gregory was asking he was outright dismissed and if that wasn’t enough Gregor comes back (it may have been on air instead of the blog)and said something to the effect that he had too much of a life to spend time reading the CBA.

      That’s like Tencer bragging about how he dropped out of university. Bad enough that the local media is ignorant, but the fact that they’re so damn proud of it kills me.

    46. Ribs
      July 1, 2009 at

      Thanks for looking into this further, guys. It is truly very interesting.

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