Here we go again: A Thrashers sale/relocation to Winnipeg could be announced as soon as Tuesday. We'll see. Regardless of when it happens, the normally maddening NHL CBA has a few quite straightforward clauses that addresses just such an occasion. (Note: I wrote about part of this before, but none of you were around then. Well, most of you weren't.)
My favorite clauses of the CBA -- a document I otherwise hate wading through -- have to do with incidental player expenses involved with demotion, trade or franchise relocation. For example, a team is obligated to put a newly acquired player up in a hotel for 21 days -- and pay for one "mid-size" car rental. And if he was acquired after Feb. 15, they're obligated to do so until after the playoffs are over (a nod toward reducing distractions during crunch time, one suspects).
There's also the $6,000 clause, which is no small change to the Ricky Romas of the world:
13.7 Expansion Draft, Team Relocation. Any Player forced to move as a result of being claimed in an expansion draft, or as a result of a team relocation, shall be paid $6,000. (This payment shall not affect or be credited against "moving expenses" to which the Player might otherwise be ent it led).
Moving from Atlanta to Winnipeg kinda stinks from a "this place is fun and well located" standpoint. But hey, at least Dustin Byfuglien and the gang will get $6000 a piece out of the deal.
14.1 Rent/Mortgage Expenses. A Player whose SPC is Assigned (whether by Trade, Waiver, including Players exempt from Waivers, expansion or team relocation) from one Club to another shall be reimbursed from the assignee-Club (or his own Club in the case of relocation) a sum equal to six (6) months' rent or mortgage, as the case may be, on his living quarters in the cit y from which he is Assigned; provided, however, that such reimbursement shall be made only if and to the extent that the Player is legally obligated to make and does make such payment and, provided, further, that the Club's obligation shall in no event exceed for the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons, $3,100 per month; for the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons, $3,200 per month; for the 2009-10 and the 2010-11 seasons, $3,300 per month.
So this goes for a waiver claim or trade, too, but if all those players in Atlanta have outstanding mortgages or leases in Atlanta, the new Winnipeg team has to have their back -- at least up to $3,300 or more (if it went up for 2011-12). Hopefully none of them live in MC Hammer's old pad.
But this isn't like taking out an insurance claim on your hail damage and pocketing the cash while "forgetting" to get the hail damage fixed. The player has to show proof that he really is obligated to pay the lease and that he, in fact, wrote the check.
Relocated players don't just get moving expenses and outstanding mortgage compensation though. Like traded players, they get ... moving expenses, yay!:
14.2 Moving Expenses. ... In the event that an Assignment of a Player by one Club to another Club or a team relocation occurs during the period between Playing Seasons, the reasonable moving expenses incurred by the Player shall be paid by the Club to which he is Assigned (or by his own Club in the case of a team relocation) if the Player maintained a year-round home at the time of an Assignment in the city from which he was Assigned, and moves during the first Playing Season following an Assignment from said area to the area of the Club to which he was Assigned.
So "reasonable" expenses. Don't be moving and insuring no antique grand piano or Faberge egg.
Did I mention you players have to show proof? They do:
14.5 (a) Prior to its reimbursing an Assigned Player as provided in this Article 14 an assignee-Club (or his own Club in the case of a team relocation) may require satisfactory proof that the Player has paid the amounts for which he seeks reimbursement, and, in the case of rent or mortgage reimbursements, satisfactory proof (e.g., the lease) that the Player is legally obligated to pay such rent or mortgage and the amount thereof. Upon notice to the Player, the assignee-Club (or his own Club in the case of a team relocation) may, as analternative to reimbursement, pay the expenses incurred upon Assignment (in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this Article 14) directly to the person, firms, or corporations involved.
See? No fast ones. NHL players: They're just like you and me.