March 31 2014 10:00PM
TheLeafsNation.com can exclusively report that the National Hockey League will put out a press release later this morning, confirming that the Toronto Maple Leafs have been found in violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement on multiple levels surrounding David Clarkson's 7 year contract, and will be penalized their 1st Round Draft Pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
From our source within the National Hockey League:
As they'll explain on Tuesday, the Leafs messed up huge on this in two different departments. First and foremost, the league has unearthed major tampering... Clarkson's camp and Leafs management had been in touch with each other a couple of times throughout the 2012/13 season, and had a deal done within days of the Leafs being eliminated. The rumoured "Edmonton offer" doesn't exist, and was intentionally leaked by Leafs brass. Evidence of this has been gathered and kept in safekeeping in the event that MLSE takes this to court.
The second part has to do with his contract structure. To keep it simple, an illegal amount is placed into signing bonuses. Clarkson for some reason requested that large chunks of his salary were to be paid at once, and the total they ended up with is simply too high.
The league was going to keep the penalties strictly financial, but repeated denials by the Leafs on the tampering half made things worse. I don't know why they did it, it would take a fool to believe what they were saying with all the evidence against them.
Clarkson's contract will not be voided; it's too late in the process for that.
This is bad. Really, really bad. It's the first truly significant example of tampering that the league has unearthed, which makes you wonder if there have been other cases to this extent, or the Leafs were just that bad at hiding this.
The signing bonus part stings, when you realize why it exists. To keep it simple, it's to make him get more money if/when he gets bought out at any point in the deal. I don't know if 75% is too high, or if there's even more than we know, but the league doesn't like it in any case.
The worst part, of course, is the penalty. A first round pick, during a massive free fall, all because of the already bad looking contract of a severely under performing player. At this point, there's no question that he needs to have the best year of his career, six years in a row, for this to have made long term sense.
Here I was thinking that nobody could top the Calgary Flames and the Ryan O'Reilly offer sheet debacle. I guess I was wrong. We'll see what happens with management after this, and how they react to the public; I expect a release or a press conference of their own at some point during the day.