Getty ImagesLubomir Visnovsky's summer consisted of being traded from the Anaheim Ducks to the New York Islanders on the opening day of the NHL Draft, wanting to void the deal by filing a grievance through the NHLPA because he believes his no-trade clause was still intact and ending by crashing a Ferrari during a race in Slovakia last month.
Visnovsky gets to argue his case today during an arbitration hearing, with the defenseman claiming the Ducks never asked for his permission to waive his no-trade to consummate a deal with the Islanders. Visnovsky's agent, Neil Sheehy, told Arthur Staple of Newsday that the issue is about honoring the clause and not in any way his client trying to refuse to play on Long Island. (Visnovsky even took part in a youth camp last month in Slovakia wearing an Islanders practice jersey.)
Visnovsky's belief is that the clause was still valid and he could only be dealt to one of 10 teams on a list he supplied the Ducks. The team never approached him about a deal because they believed the clause wasn't valid any longer.
The issue dates back to 2007 when Visnovsky inked a 5-year extension with the Los Angeles Kings, a contract that included a NTC. He was dealt to the Edmonton Oilers in June 2008, one day before the new contract and no-trade clause were set to kick in. At the 2010 trade deadline, Visnovsky was on the move back to California, this time going to the Ducks.
But now come the questions at the heart of this case, as Dominik from Islanders blog Lighthouse Hockey laid out:
- Did the Oilers agree to honor his NTC when they took him on? (The CBA bizarrely says an acquiring team doesn't have to honor the clause if it hasn't kicked in yet.)
- If so, did he then waive it to accept the trade to the Ducks? And if that, then does that affect whether the clause still applies to future trades?
The facts are somewhat foggy in this case -- partly because the NHL is a league marked by strange clauses and implied, unseen documents (Anyone have that CHL-NHL agreement that keeps 19-year-olds out of the AHL?). I know I used to see reporters occasionally report that when an NHL player waives his NTC for a team, that NTC doesn't carry on to the next destination -- but that's not something I've seen in the CBA.
According to the CBA Sec. 11.8:
"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."
In talking about the deal to Anaheim months later with the Orange County Register, Visnovsky made it sound like he was never approached by Oilers GM Steve Tambellini about the possibility of deal. If the Oilers had agreed to honor his no-trade clause Tambellini would have consulted with Visnovsky and his agent before making the deal, right?
An arbitrator will sort through all that after hearing Visnovsky's case. The NHL approved the deal back in June, so as the CBA states, there has to be evidence in writing that team agreed to honor the NTV. Visnovsky has been saying the right things about the Islanders since the trade, so would he accept a (legal) second trade back to Long Island should he win his case? Or does he want to finish out the final year of his contract in Anaheim, where he's spent the past two and a half seasons?
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy