Visnovsky Arbitration Case: Is This All There Is?

The Visnovsky Defense: "You have to ask yourself, 'Why would an 8-foot-tall Wookiee want to live on Endor with a bunch of 2-foot-tall Ewoks?' That does not make sense!"

The Lubomir Visnovsky arbitration ruling could come down any minute now, or it could take another week. I don't know why such a thing would take very long, but I'm not a lawyer and my brother won't let me borrow his license without paying $400 an hour and signing some kind of form about death and dismemberment.

We've gone over the publicly available facts plenty -- probably more than one should over a matter for which one lacks the full picture -- but one more detail from the Post's coverage of the ordeal stands out. Brett Cyrgalis of the Post has quotes from Visnovsky's agent Neil Sheehy that makes this sound not at all like a smoking gun issue, but rather an interpretation issue regarding the infamous clause in the CBA.

All this time many of us wondered if the case hinged on written proof that the Oilers or Ducks pledged to honor the no-trade clause in the contract Visnovsky signed with the Kings. Instead, it sounds like it hinges over whether a team has to provide written notification that they aren't upholding the non-binding clause.

As we've quoted many times from the CBA during this summer-long saga:

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.

I read that to mean everything depends on whether the Oilers (and Ducks) agreed to continue to be bound by the NTC.

But here's Cyrgalis and Sheehy's quote (in part) in the Post [as above, emphasis mine]:

What is in question is if his no-trade clause was still in effect after he was traded from the Oilers to the Ducks in 2010. If he waived the clause, it would be up to the Ducks to pick it up. Whether the Ducks did or didn't adopt the clause, it seems the player should have been notified, either way.

"To me, it’s really 50/50," said Sheehy, who was a witness at the hearing. "It’s something that has to be interpreted."

Does the CBA really suggest a player must be notified "either way?" (I know, I know, creative parsing and having the patience to read things written by other lawyers is why lawyers get paid well.)

By my read, the first order is that the new team isn't bound by the NTC. The second order is that the team may agree to be bound by it "which agreement shall be evidenced in writing." I don't infer a duty to inform the player in writing of an agreement that, well, is no longer agreed. It sounds like, as with Shea Weber and his offer sheet which was matched by the Predators, that NTC becomes a default "nice to have, if you would be so kind" rather than a "if you don't let me know otherwise, then it still exists" situation.

But that's just one report in an odd sequence over a frankly bizarre clause in the CBA. And I'm not a lawyer.

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