I quite like Neil Sheehy’s comments on the news that Lubomir Visnovsky had decided to invoke his no-trade clause today, which is like the most NHL thing ever to begin with, before you throw this on top:
“This isn’t an issue with the Isles. It’s a matter for the NHLPA/NHL to decide. He has a no-trade clause.”
“It’s not about Lubo saying he doesn’t want to go to the Isles. He likes what they say. This is about establishing what’s right.”
Lubo: the Rosa Parks of hockey. Wonder what would have happened if he’d been dealt to Pittsburgh? “Well, they are sending me to the back of the bus but this is an awfully nice bus and everyone’s really polite to me and they’re paying me to ride it and someone serves me food on the bus…’
Nobody seems to have actually written about the issue yet in any depth, so a quick note on that. The section of the CBA in question reads:
11.8 (a) The SPC of any Player who is a Group 3 Unrestricted Free Agent under Article 10.1(a) may contain a no-Trade or a no-move clause. SPCs containing a no-Trade or a no-move clause may be entered into prior to the time that the Player is a Group 3 Unrestricted Free Agent so long as the SPC containing the no-Trade or no-move clause extends through and does not become effective until the time that the Player qualifies for Group 3 Unrestricted Free Agency. If the Player is Traded or claimed on Waivers prior to the no-Trade or no-move clause taking effect, the clause does not bind the acquiring Club. An acquiring Club may agree to continue to be bound by the no-Trade or no-move clause, which agreement shall be evidenced in writing to the Player, Central Registry and the NHLPA, in accordance with Exhibit 3 hereof.
My recollection is that when Visnovsky was traded to Edmonton, the Oilers agreed to honour his no-trade clause, which had not yet come into effect. Frankly, it strikes me as sort of bizarre that an NTC disappears when a player gets traded before it comes into effect but it is what it is.
Visnovsky’s situation is pretty unusual. I’m not sure it’s ever happened before. Consider the sequence of events. 1) Lubo signed a contract with an NTC to kick in later. 2) He was traded before the NTC kicked in. 3) The acquiring team (Edmonton) honoured the NTC. 4) He waived the NTC to get traded again. 5) He was then traded again, without being asked to waive his NTC.
To be honest, I’ve got a hard time seeing how you can read that section to mean that Lubo doesn’t have an NTC, once the Oilers have given it to him. The Ducks’ argument, I suppose, would be that the NTC agreed to by the Oilers doesn’t bind them, as they aren’t the acquiring club but that doesn’t make a lot of sense – how can Lubo go to the Ducks with fewer rights than he had with the Oilers, absent some provision in the CBA to the contrary?
On the surface then, this looks like a pretty good case for Lubo, assuming we’ve got the facts relatively straight. It’s hard to imagine this specific circumstance having come up before. Chris Botta reported on Twitter that the grievance was filed pretty quickly after the deal.
On the surface, it seems like a clean case for Lubo. That said, it’s hard to imagine two NHL teams AND the NHL office missing this. I’m awfully interested to hear their side of the story.