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Legal news: NHLPA files complaint re: Wideman suspension; Predators’ ownership issues NHL’s problem

Today's legal news comes from Reuters...

The NHL’s players union on Friday urged a U.S. court not to grant Commissioner Gary Bettman broad power to override arbitrators when deciding how severely to discipline players for improper on-ice conduct.

Citing a recent appeals court ruling against New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, the NHL Players’ Association said Bettman should not be allowed to restore a 20-game suspension of Calgary Flames defenceman Dennis Wideman for hitting a linesman, after an arbitrator cut the ban to 10 games.

The NHL had sued to revive the longer suspension on June 8, contending that the arbitrator reviewing the matter under the league’s collective agreement was not “neutral,” and ignored substantial evidence justifying the original ban.

But in a filing with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the NHLPA said Wideman’s 10-game ban should stand.

Citing the April 25 court ruling restoring Brady’s four-game suspension from the NFL for deflating footballs, the union said federal courts have only “narrowly circumscribed” authority to review labor arbitration decisions.

“A federal court may not require perfection in arbitration awards,” the union said. “The court must simply ensure that the arbitrator was even arguably construing or applying the contract and acting within the scope of his authority and did not ignore the plain language of the contract. There can be no credible dispute that this was the case here.”

And the Associated Press:

A judge has ruled against a co-owner of the Nashville Predators in his bid to keep his lawsuit against the franchise in a Tennessee court and allowed the case to go back to the NHL for arbitration.

According to online court records, Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle issued her ruling Friday after hearing arguments July 20. But her ruling dismissing David Freeman’s request for a stay of arbitration had not been posted as of Friday afternoon. At least parts of the order likely will be sealed or redacted.

The Tennessean first reported the ruling.

The former Predators chairman and Commodore Trust sued Predators Holdings LLC and current team chairman Tom Cigarran on June 23 seeking $250 million in damages for his original 48 per cent stake in the team being diluted.

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: dennis+wideman, gary+bettman, nashville+predators, nhlpa


Hootinani's avatar

Still not sure how Calgary escaped any punishment for allowing Wideman to continue to play the remainder of the game when he was clearly concussed.  I think Wideman should serve the 20 because his hit on the official was clearly retaliation for a non call and not an accidental run in or mistaken identity, but Calgary should have to face steep penalties as well.

Posted by Hootinani on 07/30/16 at 12:41 PM ET


Yeah.  Retaliation.  Sure it was. rolleyes

Posted by Garth on 07/30/16 at 03:12 PM ET

shazam88's avatar

Mums the word on concussions in any manner.  Def not going to sue his owner while litigating on behalf if the owner on the very subject.  Itd be used as evidence against him in his own case

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 07/30/16 at 05:00 PM ET

Hockeytown, I know what you’re saying and where it comes from, as Bettmann is obviously not setting a high bar when it comes to these things. That said, the CTE lawsuit and the Wideman matter are very different issues, even though they both revolve around concussions.

Nobody has ever denied that players can suffer concussions while on the ice; that’s the basis for the so-called quiet room protocol and so forth. In fact, the league only risks hurting itself in any player/NHLPA-initiated lawsuit(s) related to concussions / CTE if it can be shown that they systematically failed to mitigate concussion-related injuries. Legally, it would have been in there best interests to fine or otherwise discipline Calgary.

Posted by shazam88 from SoCal on 07/30/16 at 05:28 PM ET

cigar_nurse's avatar

So the guy in Nashville sees a big payday for all the existing teams with the los Vegas franchise entry fee. Pretty smart.

Posted by cigar_nurse from On LTIR for the Greenville Pylons on 07/30/16 at 07:28 PM ET

SYF's avatar

So the guy in Nashville sees a big payday for all the existing teams with the los Vegas franchise entry fee. Pretty smart.

Posted by cigar_nurse from Greenville South Cakalakee on 07/30/16 at 07:28 PM ET

Couldn’t believe it’s now a half billion dollar cover charge to join the boys network.

Posted by SYF from impossible and oddly communally possessive sluts on 07/30/16 at 10:43 PM ET

shazam88's avatar

If Bettmans reponse to Sen Blumenthal can be used. Making an unprecendented punishment for the team playing the player while concussed would absolutely be used in the current lawsuit against bettman whos stance is the NHL prefers to take a more conservative approach since science is making claims with inconclusive data.

Again, what I said earlier (immediate harm of concussions is clearly accepted by the league as evidenced by their protocol; the argument here is long-term pathology of concussions leading to CTE), plus inadmissibility of subsequent mitigating measures as evidence of wrong doing (evid code 407) means that any fine levied on Calgary would be virtually irrelevant and at worst would play a very minor, indirect role in a complex case.

But I’m just arguing details with you, not the main thrust of things. The tobacco industry type of approach taken by the league makes them look like evil scum. Betmann has to know that they aren’t going to “win” this in the court room.  Frankly, if the owners actually insist that Bettman and boys fight this one into the courtroom, they’re fools and it will backfire badly. I would presume that they’ll file a number of bullshit motions but probably move to settle as it heads to discovery. That would be the rational choice and this is the NHL, so I’m probably wrong and they’ll screw themselves badly, making that next lockout will be even more likely than ever.

Posted by shazam88 from SoCal on 07/31/16 at 01:54 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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