Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Nylander To Caps Not A Done Deal?

The Oil not going down without a fight, reports the Ottawa Sun.

And away we go.

Update (10:57 pm)
: Just received a call back from the Oilers VP of Communications, Allan Watt. When asked to comment on the team's complaint filed to the NHL, Watt responded, "I don't have anything to say to bloggers." I quickly reminded him that we had spoken at length Monday morning. Said Watt,
Well that was a mistake on my part.
I'm guessing things are now a wee bit tense in Edmonton's front office.


smitty said...

An update from Tarik:

"I've spoke with a couple of sources who have indicated that there is virtually no way that Nylander's contract with the Capitals can be voided. The only thing Edmonton can do at this point is seek damages from Nylander and his agent and perhaps petition the NHLPA to take disciplinary action against Gillis."

Very interesting indeed. I seriously doubt McPhee had anything at all to do with it, and as such the Caps don't owe Edmonton anything.

Murshawursha said...

That's funny... Their press release states that they had reached a deal July 1st... And yet, you spoke with Watt at or around noon on the second and he told you no deal had been reached.

Somebody's got some 'splaining to do.

Tyler said...


So he won't talk to writers whose primary medium is the internet? Seriously: Are they all on dial-up in Edmonton?

The Peerless said...

I smell an HBO series here...

kb said...

As I understand it mursha, Edmonton is not claiming that a contract had been signed by Nylander, but that an agreement (written) had been reached with Nylander's agent.

Any dispute, it seems to me, would be between agent and client. But I'm a humanities guy. What do I know from contract law?

The team's statement is below.

>The Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club is compelled to clarify the unfortunate and unprecedented circumstances surrounding the Edmonton Oilers and Michael Nylander.

>On Sunday, July 1, 2007, Kevin Lowe, Oilers General Manager, and Mr. Mike Gillis, Certified Agent for Michael Nylander, negotiated and agreed to a multi-year NHL Standard Players Contract, starting in 2007/08. Mr. Gillis confirmed same to the Oilers in writing.

>The Oilers then proceeded with preparations to announce Mr. Nylander‚s contract agreement on July 2, and concurrently continued with the process of negotiating with other free agents based upon Mr. Nylander being an important roster ingredient for the future.

>However, while the Oilers were expecting the returned, signed agreements from Mr. Nylander and Mr. Gillis, the Oilers discovered through public announcements made mid-afternoon on July 2, that Mr. Nylander had subsequently entered into a long-term contract with the Capitals.

>The Oilers can find no precedent for such conduct in our history. The Oilers are examining and pursuing every course of action available in the best interest of the team and our fans.

>For legal reasons, the Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club will not be discussing the details any further at this time.

JP said...

I go out for one evening's debauchery and all hell breaks loose...

Murshawursha said...

Then I don't see how it can matter... If no contract was signed, then I don't think Edmonton can do anything. Nylander said he'd sign with them and then changed his mind. Or his agent was just screwing with them. Either way, I don't think there's much they can do.

kb said...

From all that I've been reading, any resolution will hinge upon the specific details of the power of attorney agreement between client and agent.

And now I make my way back to the shallow end of the pool.

exwhaler said...

Given that no contract is considered active or enforceable until it's approved by the league office, this sounds like Lowe is trying to gloss over the fact he made an ill-advised judgment call (considering a deal done without having any of the paperwork delivered or approved). It's a PR move, nothing more.

MikeP said...

exwhaler, I wonder if what the CBA says really matters; if it disagrees with contract law, I should hope that the latter wins. If Nylander says to his agent, "You can negotiate contracts for me," and his agent tells the Oilers "He'll sign with you for x dollars a year times y years," then it seems to me that then signing a contract with somebody else puts Nylander in breach of contract.

Contrary to popular opinion, even verbal contracts are enforceable, if it gets to that (good luck proving it though).

What can the Oilers get out of it? Who knows. Getting Gillis decertified might be what they want. But what do they have to lose? If a player or player agent refuses to negotiate with the Oilers based on the fact they tried to hammer somebody they consider to have dealt in poor faith, I'm not certain I'd want to see that player as an Oiler anyway. (I'm not certain I'd want to think of that sort of player as being in the NHL, honestly.) Looking like idiots? I don't think Kevin Lowe much cares what other people, much less the general public, think of him.

JP said...

MikeP - the CBA is pretty much all that matters here. It is a voluntary agreement entered into by all parties which details the employer-employee relationship, and it sets out the requirements for a player-team contract.

While a CBA can't make legal that which contract law prohibits, it can define what constitutes a "deal," which it clearly does... and the Oilers pretty clearly didn't have one with Michael Nylander.

They can go after Gillis if they like, but I can't see a scenario in which either the Caps or Nylander are forced to give up anything.

MikeP said...

JP, sure, but I really doubt the Oilers are aiming to have the Capitals contract voided. Even if they wanted Nylander before, I shouldn't think they do now. I *do* think they're aiming to damage Gillis in the same way they feel he's damaged them.

I don't have a problem with that as an Oilers fan (unlike some, I feel that teams can do two things at once, or even more, that's why you hire help, so there's no issue of "the Oilers should concentrate on something else"), and I don't have a problem with that as a fan of the NHL in general.

Then again, I've been accused before of being an idealist and a crusader. I know if I was in Lowe's shoes, I'd be pretty freaking angry, if what he's saying about what happened is 100%.

JP said...

Agreed. To me, it would be a pretty cut and dried case of "scummy agent goes for the bucks, screws team, client," but given that there's a recent history with Nylander of a very similar agent-client miscommunication, I'm not sure he's without fault.

Still, damages are going to be awfully hard to quantify, much less prove.

Anonymous said...

sorry to all Oilers fans, but as a Caps fan I can only tough! Lowe should not have counted on Nylander until the contract was signed and approved by the league. No amount of PR spin can excuse a stupid move by an out of touch GM.