Saturday, January 21, 2006

Flaherty Blows His Fuse

I don't blame Wade Flaherty for going ballistic (subscription req'd.).

Normally the Manitoba Moose's best defender, veteran goalie Wade Flaherty went on the attack yesterday over the contract restriction that is keeping him from being recalled to the NHL this season.

Flaherty dismissed the NHLPA as part of the problem, not the solution, and said the NHL has stolen money from him and other players and is trying to impose a salary cap on hockey's top minor league.

His anger stems from the provision in the NHL's new CBA with the NHLPA that forces teams to expose players to waivers when they are recalled to the NHL, if that player makes more than $75,000 US in the minors. And not only is the player exposed, but the NHL team that loses him would be forced to pay half the player's salary and have it count against its own salary cap.

And the NHL, in this case the Vancouver Canucks, has also imposed its 24 per cent salary rollback on AHL players like Flaherty, who have some element of an NHL guarantee in their contract. Flaherty says that Vancouver has reduced his total salary by 24 per cent, not just his guarantee, and he claims it has taken $24,000, maybe as much as $36,000, straight from his pocket this season.
I've brought up the ridiculousness of the $75,000 waiver rule in the past, but this is the first I've heard of the 24% salary rollback forced on the minor-league players. For Flaherty, this basically means taking a double-whammy for the season.

The way the article explains it, Flaherty's deal for this season, which was signed in 2004, is for US$100,000 in the minors plus another US$50,000 NHL guarantee, totalling US$150,000. (The NHL guarantee is where a club will guarantee a player on a two-way contract so many NHL games, or failing to give the player those games, will at least guarantee his pay for those games.) After the lockout, the Canucks applied the 24% salary rollback on the US$150,000, reducing his salary to US$114,000.

Flaherty's argument:

Flaherty insists Vancouver should only have reduced his NHL "guarantee," $50,000, by the 24 per cent, that they had no business reducing his minor-league salary. He contends his salary should either be $150,000, because he's not playing in the NHL, or at worst, $138,000, rolling back only his NHL "guarantee."
And he may have a point. Despite having a career season in the AHL - he has led the Manitoba Moose with a 15-10-2 record, a 2.25 GAA, a 0.925 SV% and six shutouts (tops in the AHL) and has been named as one of the starting goaltenders in the 2006 AHL All-Star Classic - and injuries to Dan Cloutier, Flaherty has yet to be called up. Unfortunately, the $75,000 waiver rule essentially prevents him from being called up to the NHL. But if he's not playing in the NHL, then why is his non-NHL salary - his AHL salary - also being reduced? (And as an added Martin Havlat-like kick to the groin, his reduced salary isn't enough so that he isn't subject to the $75,000 rule.)

Since when did the NHL CBA also cover the AHL?

Comments/Questions: Feel free to post in the comments section or email me at gocanucksgo10 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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posted by J.J. Guerrero, 10:17 AM


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