panic common

Plenty of upset (rightly) among the Oilers fanbase this spring about having to give up draft picks to Boston and San Jose in exchange for hiring a previously fired manager and coach. The NHL works in mysterious ways, but there may be some light at the end of the tunnel.

In article published today by Joe Haggarty for Comcast Sportsnet, there’s some indication that this ridiculous rule is SO bad it may not sustain.

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  • Haggarty: There are those in the hockey world wondering whether the draft pick
    compensation rule will be reviewed again by the GMs this summer, and
    some greater clarification will be made to free up fired employees.
    Would an amended draft pick compensation rule mean teams like the Oilers
    ultimately won’t have to surrender draft pick compensation to the
    Bruins if things are further clarified this summer? Source

As Haggarty states in the article, the Oilers technically owe Boston a second-round pick in 2015, 2016 or 2017 and Edmonton can choose the year. The right thing to do would be turfing this nutty rule altogether, but this is the NHL so it’ll probably punish Edmonton this spring but change the wording in time for next offseason.

The NHL makes it up as they go along, with no rhyme nor reason. Chances are your fantasy league spends more time thinking about its regulations than the NHL does about things like this rule. You may ask yourself ‘how does this happen’? and the answer probably lies somewhere between Glen Sather’s unlit cigar and Lou Lamoriello’s winning smile.

The NHL can fix anything, so they can fix this. Will they? Don’t know. In closing, allow me to publish one of the greatest paragraphs in sports history:

  • “The New Jersey Devils won’t have to forfeit a first-round pick after all
    for attempting to circumvent the salary cap by signing Ilya Kovalchuk
    to a 17-year deal in 2010, the NHL announced Thursday.”

The NHL can fix this rule, they’ve fixed bigger issues. Will they? We wait.

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  • D

    Sounds like the NHL’s lawyers didn’t do their due diligence on this issue from the get go. Putting artificial constraints on labor mobility is often a no-no, especially in places like California and other labor law friendly jurisdictions.

    • A Little Less Concerned

      Although you aren’t wrong in the labor laws end of things. I think it applies differently when it comes to contracts.

      If someone (or in this case both parties) are contracted to do something for a specific amount of time, then that contract is binding. I am not contracted to do my line of work, so if they fire me I’m done, gonzo, finished, and those labor laws protect me. Severance pay, or maybe the ability to sue for unlawful termination, is there as a protection.

      But in the case of a contract like those given to sports personal, the team is also contracted to pay out “X” dollars over “X” time for services rendered. Now that person may have been relieved of their duties or “fired” from the position, but they are still a contracted employee of that company/team.

      Right now, right or wrong, the team that loses an employee has the right to ask for compensation. The reason stems from the fact that (as an example) BOS could have told Chia that he was the new HC of the AHL team and he really didn’t have a choice. (under contract you can’t just walk away)

      I think the rule is stupid though. It should be there if a coach/GM decided to just “bail” on a team and take a job elsewhere. But then again that’s what a contract is for. They cant just “bail”.

      If a team fires someone, they shouldn’t ask for compensation when they are hired elsewhere. But according to the way contracts themselves work, they can do it.

      The NHL needs to put a clause in the coach/GM contracts that state if someone is “fired” or relieved of his/her duties, they have a right to move on and the contract will become void IF they find employment. But really, until then what the teams are doing is legal.

      Hell, it should be a GOOD thing if the person finds employment. It means the old team no longer needs to pay them.

      Stupid rule, but contracts are what they are and until the NHL requires a differing wording, it’s what will happen.

      • D

        I think you hit it right with the contract issue. I missed that element, but your analysis is the correct one.

        As Naky pointed out, an exception would be if the contract was specific to a particular position with the organization. But if it is non-specific to duties, and the term of contract does not automatically expire as a result of the GM/Coach being relieved of duties, then some sort of exchange of consideration between the new team and the old one may be required.

    • Serious Gord

      That depends.

      If the person was under contract yet relieved of his duties and still is under contract (think Dallas Eakins) it does make some sense that compensation be made if another franchise picks up that person and signs them to a new contract within that first contract’s period.

      The reasoning behind this should be pretty easy to see- rich teams could hire away less financially able team’s management.

      I am not positive that this rule is that bad an idea – just the optics are bad – Eakins really wasn’t fired – he is still being paid by the oilers.

      I suspect there will be changes but that EDM will still have to pay some kind of compensation or assume the cost of chiarellis contract with Boston.

  • vetinari

    Stupid rule on fired executives. Fine with guys under contract who are leaving for promotions in other organizations. And 2 or 3 rounders are way too high. Let’s talk 5th or 6th rounders.

  • CDNinATL

    This rule needs to go bye bye! Or amend it so it doesn’t apply to fired coaches/GMs.

    I say we wait as long as we can and keep pestering the league to cancel this. They lifted the penalty for NJ and should do the same for us.

  • ThinkingOutLoud

    Maybe this will work out well for us anyway? I mean if ANYONE has been stocking up on fired coaches/gms/management its us, right?

    We just nees someone to hire Nelson or Renney or Kruger or MacT or Howson or Lowe or Tambi or Eakins and we’re set!!!

    On second thought, nevermind…

  • CDNinATL

    With two picks in future years lost as compensation as per the current league rules, it’s one good reason to hold on to all current picks and not use them as trade assets. This could also hamper Oilers signing an RFA as they may not have the required compensatory picks.

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    Oh well. Give it to them as late as you can. We should be a lot better by then. Stupid rule though. What was the rule supposed to do in the first place?

  • SKOilFan

    This whole compensation thing has been a joke from the start. The only time in my mind that compensation should be warranted is if head coaches and GM’s were allowed to actively search for new employment opportunities without the employing teams consent. The idea of having to compensate for McLellan even though both sides agreed to walk away is a joke. And further, compensation for our GM who was fired is perhaps a bigger farce. Both teams get the benefit of subtracting those wages from their books, and still get compensation? Absolutely ridiculous.


    I agree its the dumbest rule out there if he got fires. If its an associate or something (Nelson being a perfect example) and he decides to leave the organization for another while under contract, then compensation is valid. Just another dumb rule on which the NHL messed up badly.

  • bradleypi

    How about not hiring the coach or gm if you are so worried about paying the draft pick. Are boston and San Jose not still paying big money to these guys? I can understand why they would want compensation for a guy leaving and plying his trade elsewhere while still getting paid millions of dollars. Not sure why this is such a big deal all of a sudden to oilersnation. I recall most people on here referring to 2nd and higher picks as “magic beans” anyways. Now the Oilers have acquired a top gm and coach and all of a sudden a 2nd round pick is too valuable to give away? Small price if you ask me for those 2 guys.

    • Serious Gord

      The team who fired the coach or GM no longer has to pay their salary if the fired employee gets hired by another team for the same job.

      Years ago they had their contracts paid out no matter what, so it was actually a pretty sweet deal to get fired with several years on your contract and then immediately get hired by another team. You would collect two salaries.

      It’s not like that anymore.

    • A Little Less Concerned

      You misunderstand. Once these personal sign a new contract, the old team is no longer obliged to pay them.

      The argument is that if someone is “fired” from the position they held, there should be no obligation from the “new’ team to pay for hiring them. The said coach/GM won’t be paid by the old team once the new contract is valid.

      Hire whoever you want , once they are fired. And that shouldn’t be an issue.

      The problem comes from the wording of the contract. The old coach/GM is still an employee of the team they were fired from. Doesn’t matter if they no longer hold the position that they were hired for, they are under contract for “X” amount of time.

      It’s a stupid rule, but in the courts it would stand.

      THATS why the NHL (aka Bettman) needs to re-word these standard agreements to say that if a coach/GM is “fired” they can leave the team and find work elsewhere with no repercussions.

      If they don’t leave, they are under contract to work for the team. But if they do, they should be no longer held to that contact.

      • bradleypi

        Maybe I don’t quite get it. There must be some reason the nhl put the rule in place tho. Obviously to deter teams from hiring fired coaches for some reason. You’d think the blogger would clarify this issue before complaining about it. I don’t think it’s as big a deal as oilersnation is making it. Paying a single draft pick for hiring a top gm and coach in the league is a small price to pay imo. If the situation was reversed I guarantee oilersnation would have absolutely no problem with this rule.

        • Kevwan

          It’s pretty simple. GM’s like Ken Holland were getting tired of losing good people from their organizations and lobbied for compensation.

          I don’t think the “under contract” wording was ever meant to include fired coaches/GM’s.

          I expect that loophole of fired coaches to be closed. Eventually teams will look at CHL, University, or other places for hires rather than lose picks. This will leave other teams on the hook for the fired guys salaries. No way the owners want to lose money.

  • CDNinATL

    The compensation should not be players (draft Picks) but money …..provide funds to minor hockey to develop more coaches and GMs or something like that.

    Or the team that hires a fired coach or GM has to buy lunch (haha) for Oiler Nation writers.

  • O.C.

    @A Little Less Concerned

    No, contracts don’t really work the way you’re describing it. If you apply for the position to be GM of the Boston Bruins, that is the contract you’re signing. The contract is not just a carte blanche for the Bruins to be like, “Welp, we don’t like the job you’re doing as GM so you can go be the janitor now cuz we have you under contract!”. No, the job agreed upon was the GM and only the GM and that’s what the contract was for.

    So no, they could not have come out afterwards and changed his position or re-assigned him within the organization. Once you are fired from the position you agreed upon, you have absolutely no obligation to continue to do anything for the organization. Some do and stay on as special advisors or whatever meaningless job that entails but they aren’t obligated to.

    • A Little Less Concerned

      Morally you are right. But I deal with contracts every day and depending on the wording, Chia could very well been the next janitor for the Bruins.

      That’s the problem with contracts. If it says that you are an employee making “X” dollars for “X” time, but doesn’t specify that it depends on a “position” then that employee is hooked.

      Yes, there is a case that “if” the contract said that it was valid for a GM position for “X” years at “X” dollars, then you are right. Because not being GM would make the contract invalid.

      But if it said “an employee” for “X” years at “X” dollars, then no. Said person would be stuck.

      It’s the wording of those contracts that has to change.

      The thing is, unless there is an “out clause” you CANNOT be fired from a contract. (well, other than failing to comply with said contract) you can be relived from said duties, (again some contracts say otherwise) but if you didn’t breach that contract you can still be paid. But if you are being paid, you are still an employee.

  • O.C.

    My understanding is that teams started putting language in the coach/GM contracts that freed the team from the majority of their obligation if the fired employee took the same position with another NHL team.

    example: The Oilers fired Eakins as Head coach with two years remaining on his contract.

    -if Eakins gets a job with another team as an associate coach… the oilers still have to pay out his contract

    -if Eakins gets a job as a head coach in the KHL…the Oilers still have to pay out his contract

    -if Eakins gets a Head Coach job with another NHL team…the Oilers are off the hook for the majority of his contract. He still gets paid out a negotiated percentage to compensate him for his trouble.

    • A Little Less Concerned

      I haven’t seen anything related to that. Would you have a link to that rule? Honestly I thought that if a Hc was “poached” there was compensation. Regardless of who did the poaching. (not including Europe, those rule are funny)

  • To be fair, the player the Leafs give up (in order to have the immortal god of hockey coach them) shall become a super star in Detroit… such is the circle of life. The league can’t screw with the rule until that young stud has been delivered to the Wings.

    After that…. go nuts.

  • This policy devised by the wizards of the NHL is really puzzling. It makes absolutely zero sense. I suspect this policy would have been smothered if it hadn’t become public. Now the league brain trust has to try and get out of this and save face. Of course they will not make that change until they have punished the Oilers for winning the draft lottery.

    • BobbyCanuck

      NHL Governance hates us, all the other teams hate us, all the other fans hate us, Eastern journalists hate us…screw them all!

      5 Stanely Cups
      4 #1 over-alls
      Billionare owner-> new arena, spends to the cap

      10 easy reasons to hate us

      Haters going to hate, imagine how pissed everyone is going to be when we start winning multiple cups again!

  • This ruling is very twisted indeed. First Tom Renney is the new Hockey Guru who replaced Our Uncle Bob Nicholson with Hockey Canada. I Wonder if Detroit Red Wings got compensation from Team Canada! ha ha

    Clearly this rule could hurt coaches knocking on the door of the NHL. What happens if an NHL team signs Mike Keenan from the KHL would there be a negotiated compensation and if he had an “out clause” to return to the NHL in his KHL contract and that meant no due compensation —-every coach when fired should have an out clause which states that they can return to an NHL job without requiring compensation.

    I really hope that Todd Nelson returns in a pivotal role with these baby oilers at whichever level. If he goes back to Head Coach in Bakersfield the OIL management should ensure that he is the highest paid coach at the AHL Level as just reward for his efforts. We should be pleased to keep him either there or as an assistant with the big team. Clearly he is an element of continuity which this team lacks and needs.

    Having said that I really hope that he is not precluded from being hired by an NHL because of this insane and unjust compensation ruling.

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    It sucks that we may have to give up picks for Chiarelli and McLellan, but at least we’ll get a pick back when Eakins gets hired by… ahahahaha I couldn’t even finish this.

  • Anton CP

    It is a bad rule that will prevent a fringe HC to get a job. If any team has to compensate for a new hiring wouldn’t teams be rather hire a more established coach as the new HC? This will also makes any coach that are coaching in minor or junior to get a HC job somewhere else and locked for which ever team that they are currently associated with. No wonder that Flyers hired a coach from NCAA since they don’t have to compensate anything for that hiring. This will hurt minor and junior league badly.

  • DieHard

    Would really hate to lose a 2nd and 3rd rounder in 2017. It gives us a couple of years to work out trades with those teams that involve our/their picks and other players. Maybe give them someone at the trade deadline for our third back or something like that.