Saturday, 29 September 2012

Karma's Gonna Get You

For the most part, I don't have a problem with NHL players who earn a decent salary going to look for work overseas. Most of the time, these are players who seemingly want to keep themselves fit for the start of the season (if and when that happens) so that they can hold down their jobs. I do, however, have a problem with players who earn eight-figure salaries hopping across the ocean to play. Rick Nash is one of those players, and I find it very difficult that the union he belongs to would want to protect the salary he's being paid from the 20% rollback when he's not willing to do the same for others.

There are other players who have done the same - Malkin, Gonchar, Spezza, Ovechkin, Kane, and Thornton to name a few - but I chose Nash specifically because he's the first of those players who jumped to Europe or Russia that has been injured. Nash hurt his shoulder and is listed as day-to-day after an MRI on his injured shoulder revealed no serious damage. I'm happy that Nash isn't hurt, but I'd be very unhappy if I'm the New York Rangers.

The CBA, in the simplest of teams, is the contract between the NHL and NHLPA that determines how the individual teams and players can negotiate contracts. GMs and agents are always looking for loopholes in the CBA to give them an advantage, but players who jump to Europe should be careful because of certain injury riders in their contracts.

What happens if Sidney Crosby, who now has a documented history of concussions, is hammered in Russia or Europe and is on the shelf with another concussion? If the NHL returns while he is experiencing symptoms, he cannot receive payment from his NHL salary because his concussion wasn't from NHL game action. If that concussion ends his career, the injury would theoretically void his contract because the Penguins would be responsible for nothing. Is this something that NHL players think about when crossing the ocean to play a little hockey?

Let's say that Rick Nash's injury keeps him off the ice for a few days, but he is still experiencing pain in the shoulder by October 11 when the NHL season starts (with the assumption a new CBA has been reached). His shot may be affected, and his play starts to deteriorate to the point where he needs more treatment. Should the Rangers be responsible for paying him while he's receiving treatment? Should they even be responsible for treating him for an injury suffered not on NHL ice?

I'm glad I'm not a lawyer in this case because I'm sure I'd make it very clear that by playing in Europe or Russia, one takes his own career into his hands. My recommendation for these superstars would be to enjoy the money they made in previous seasons and stay home to fight alongside Donald Fehr. After all, the superstars have the most to lose if there is another salary rollback, so why shouldn't they fight for everyone collectively?

I'm glad that Rick Nash isn't hurt and that he'll be able to continue to play for HC Davos. I'm just hoping that neither he nor any other player is bitten by the injury bug while they're off plying their trade for a European team. It could prove disastrous for both the NHL team they are employed by and for themselves if any injury turns out to be serious.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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