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rocketlives 05-06-2004 08:56 AM

A Legal Question
 
Saku Koivu and Jose Theodore are both signed for the 2004-05 season. Let's say the team owners lock the players out for a full season, would Saku and Theo remain signed for the 2005-06 season under the same conditions or would their contracts have to be renegotiated?

Note: I could have taken Brisebois and Rivet as examples but I decided on Saku and Theo for no special reasons.

tinyzombies 05-06-2004 01:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rocketlives
Saku Koivu and Jose Theodore are both signed for the 2004-05 season. Let's say the team owners lock the players out for a full season, would Saku and Theo remain signed for the 2005-06 season under the same conditions or would their contracts have to be renegotiated?

Note: I could have taken Brisebois and Rivet as examples but I decided on Saku and Theo for no special reasons.

There's a whole thread about contracts and the CBA at the Montreal board. Any help would be appreciated.

thinkwild 05-06-2004 07:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rocketlives
Saku Koivu and Jose Theodore are both signed for the 2004-05 season. Let's say the team owners lock the players out for a full season, would Saku and Theo remain signed for the 2005-06 season under the same conditions or would their contracts have to be renegotiated?

Note: I could have taken Brisebois and Rivet as examples but I decided on Saku and Theo for no special reasons.


Id guess they would have to be renogotiated if their contracts were now up, and they dont get paid for the year of the lockout.

I think Owen Nolans case was that they had agreed to change the last year of his contract from a club option to a player option, which upset Bettman because he didnt think I guess that players should get their contracts deferred if there is a stoppage.

Sometimes as part of the CBA settlement they will negotiate a deal on this. If they came back within 2 months say, the owners might agree to pay their full salaries even though they didnt work. Or a $10,000 bonus per player in lieu of salary and pro-rate the contracts. But I dont think all contracts just start again next year.

Tom_Benjamin 05-06-2004 07:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rocketlives
Saku Koivu and Jose Theodore are both signed for the 2004-05 season. Let's say the team owners lock the players out for a full season, would Saku and Theo remain signed for the 2005-06 season under the same conditions or would their contracts have to be renegotiated?

Since contracts are dated, I would have said that the contracts would expire before the Alexei Yashin arbitration case. If I was, say, a John LeClair who stands to lose the final year of a five year deal at $9 million, I'd file a grievance citing the Yashin case as precedent.

Yashin refused to play even though he had a valid contract. The arbitrator made a bizarre ruling and extended the contract for a year. In the imaginary LeClair case, the owners will be refusing to put on the games even though LeClair has a valid contract. Why shouldn't his contract be extended too?

Other players like Brent Sopel and Matt Cooke will be on the final year of a contract that underpays them. They could be filing grievances the other way, insisting that their contracts have expired.

The NHLPA may argue that the players should be able to have it both ways. LeClair has the option to extend, Cooke have the right to allow his deal to expire.

Tom

CHareth 05-06-2004 09:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tom_Benjamin
Since contracts are dated, I would have said that the contracts would expire before the Alexei Yashin arbitration case. If I was, say, a John LeClair who stands to lose the final year of a five year deal at $9 million, I'd file a grievance citing the Yashin case as precedent.

Yashin refused to play even though he had a valid contract. The arbitrator made a bizarre ruling and extended the contract for a year. In the imaginary LeClair case, the owners will be refusing to put on the games even though LeClair has a valid contract. Why shouldn't his contract be extended too?

Other players like Brent Sopel and Matt Cooke will be on the final year of a contract that underpays them. They could be filing grievances the other way, insisting that their contracts have expired.

The NHLPA may argue that the players should be able to have it both ways. LeClair has the option to extend, Cooke have the right to allow his deal to expire.

Tom

The Yashin case can be differentiated quite easily, however, based on the fact that there was no event of force majeure in his situation. The league was operating, everyone was playing. The situation is quite different when, in this example, there is an event of force majeure that prevents either side from fulfilling its obligations under the contract. I would expect the players to be getting some form of compensation, even in the event of a force majeure termination/expiration, but we would need to see the actual contracts to know for sure. Anyway, interesting issue.

Tom_Benjamin 05-06-2004 10:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by anon
The Yashin case can be differentiated quite easily, however, based on the fact that there was no event of force majeure in his situation. The league was operating, everyone was playing. The situation is quite different when, in this example, there is an event of force majeure that prevents either side from fulfilling its obligations under the contract. I would expect the players to be getting some form of compensation, even in the event of a force majeure termination/expiration, but we would need to see the actual contracts to know for sure. Anyway, interesting issue.

I'm not a lawyer, but I can't see how force majeure applies. That excuses a party from liability when an unforseen event beyond the control of the parties intervenes. It usually applies to things like wars and acts of God, not labour disputes.

One of the things that made the decision in the Yashin case inexplicable is that the parties did discuss the issue in the collective bargaining negotiations. The owners wanted a non-performance clause, the players balked. The reason the owners wanted the clause was not in anticipation of a Yashin (I don't think) and the reason the NHLPA balked was not to protect a player who held out while on a contract.

The issue probably came up because the owners anticipated that the collective agreement was going to expire when salaries were rising. If the players went on strike after the agreement expired, contracts would not expire and the owners would benefit significantly because generally larger contracts would replace the smaller ones.

Assuming that interpretation is correct - and I'm far from certain that it is so - the result is very ironic. The Yashin ruling gave the owners what they wanted - a non-performance clause - but the agreement is expiring as salaries are falling so the ruling benefits the players, not the owners.

Tom

David A. Rainer 05-07-2004 01:28 AM

Bascially, you'd look to the language of the contract. It's almost a certain that a player contract has a clause that governs in the event of a labor dispute.

A force majeure clause often does cover labor disputes. But it is usually a labor dispute that does not directly involve the parties to the contract. For example, a dock workers strike makes delivery of goods impossible or impractical - force majeure would excuse performance.

I am almost positive that a players strike will not invoke a force majeure clause in favor of the striking players. Because, in this case, the player striking is the same player seeking to invoke force majeure. A force majeure clause is designed to excuse performance based upon the unforeseeable - either by forces of nature of the conduct of others. If a force majeure clause were permitted to excuse performance for the striking player, a strike could always use force majeure to excuse performance. It would be tantamount to breach under the guise of force majeure. But it is neither here nor there because the tenets of labor law are going to supersede doctrines of contract law.

And in the case of the lockout, there is no need to invoke force majeure because the players are already excused from contractual obligations by virtue of the owners' renunciation of the player contracts and labor agreement.

With all that said, I will reiterate that chances are the player contract is going to have a clause that governs in the case of labor disputes. When it is all said and done, usually what happens in non-sports collective bargaining is that some sort of mutual agreement is reached deciding the status of prior contracts after a new CBA is agreed upon (that way the mess does not end up in the courts).

Guest 05-07-2004 05:15 PM

If I'm correct, there is an issue with Joe Sakic and Rob Blake's contract as it pertains to this matter and the CBA holdouts. From what I know, they will be paid for their contracts if there is no season because their contracts specifically stated that the term was 2002-2003 (for example) to 2005-2006 (for example).

If it's a contract that was for 4 years, and they started the contract in 2002, then it would not expire until 2007 if there is a complete season missed next year.

This is a novice interpretation of the events, but you might want to research the Blake/Sakic contracts and stories.

copperandblue 05-07-2004 05:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GoCoyotes
If I'm correct, there is an issue with Joe Sakic and Rob Blake's contract as it pertains to this matter and the CBA holdouts. From what I know, they will be paid for their contracts if there is no season because their contracts specifically stated that the term was 2002-2003 (for example) to 2005-2006 (for example).

If it's a contract that was for 4 years, and they started the contract in 2002, then it would not expire until 2007 if there is a complete season missed next year.

This is a novice interpretation of the events, but you might want to research the Blake/Sakic contracts and stories.

I recall the same explanation at the time they were signed. I think there were one or two others that followed the same model. I remember Bettman apparently being quite pissed over the whole thing.

Geez you have a good memory.


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