When the New York Islanders acquired defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky during the NHL Draft last month, they landed a veteran blue liner to help Mark Streit provide offense from the back. Now there's a chance he may not even show up on Long Island.
Newsday's Arthur Staple reports that Visnovsky has filed a grievance with the NHLPA claiming that his no-trade clause, which he waived when he was dealt from Edmonton to Anaheim in 2010, is still valid. This is after Visnovsky gave an interview to a Slovak news outlet (via Matias Strozyk) saying that the Islanders were not on his 10-team list.
If an arbitrator rules in favor of Visnovsky, he remains with the Ducks; if not, he's an Islander entering the final year of his contract.
Visnovsky's agent, Neil Sheehy, told Staple:
"This isn't an issue with the Isles. It's a matter for the NHLPA/NHL to decide. He has a no-trade clause."
"It's not about Lubo saying he doesn't want to go to the Isles. He likes what they say. This is about establishing what's right."
If this news strikes you as odd considering it's a month after the deal, you're not alone. Two days after the trade to the Islanders, and on the heels of an interview Visnovsky gave to Hokej Portal where he said he was contemplating going to the KHL instead of Long Island, he told Staple, "This is my first choice, to play for the Islanders."
(UPDATE: Via Helene Elliott of the LA Times, the NHLPA has confirmed the grievance, noting Visnovsky filed it on June 30.)
Dominik at Lighthouse Hockey has already been down this road before with the Evgeni Nabokov situation:
For Isles fans, this is another depressing case of a veteran player not wanting to join the club. For Visnovsky, it's also a guy protecting his interests and trying to remain in southern California where he's spent 10 of his 11 seasons. (Still...maybe do this when the trade is consummated, rather than a month later, buddy?) Based on previous trades somehow erasing no-trade clauses -- something that doesn't sound fair, but it's how these have apparently gone -- I don't rate Visnovsky's chances of winning very highly. But I also don't recall another player challenging this murky (and frankly strange) area of the CBA or shadow CBA through arbitration.
While Nabokov had a rough start to his tenure with the Islanders, he seemed to like Long Island enough to sign a 1-year extension with the team in March. Visnovsky claiming his no-trade clause was still valid isn't necessarily a dig at the Islanders organization, it could just be a matter of player preference.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy