Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY SPORTS
The Toronto Maple Leafs have been fined $3 million and will forfeit an important draft pick as punishment for circumventing the salary cap and Collective Bargaining Agreement by placing Stephane Robidas on Long-Term Injured Reserve, the league will announce on Friday morning.
Here is the Press Release, which has been leaked to TheLeafsNation.com and is expected to be released by the league to the public and to major outlets in the next several hours:
As a result of a subpoena involving the contents of a Toronto Maple Leafs executive’s email inbox, it has become apparent that the team has violated section 16.11 (a) of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The section reads as follows:
The Injured Reserve List is a category of the Reserve List. A Club may place a Player on the Injured Reserve List only if such Player is reasonably expected to be injured, ill or disabled and unable to perform his duties as a hockey Player for a minimum of seven (7) days from the onset of such injury, illness or disability. A Player who finishes an NHL Season on the Injured Reserve List and continues to be disabled and unable to perform his duties as a hockey Player by reason of the same injury at the time he reports to the Club’s Training Camp in the next League Year, will again be eligible to be placed on the Club’s Injured Reserve List. For any other Player who fails the Club’s initial physical examination in any League Year, or is injured, ill or disabled while not on the Club’s Active Roster, he shall not be eligible for, and may not be placed on, Injured Reserve, but instead shall be eligible to be, and may be designated as, Injured Non-Roster.
The obtained emails, which were obtained in an unrelated investigation, include a conversation between the executive and Robidas. In this conversation, the executive makes clear that the team believes the player to be healthy enough to play, but would prefer that he stay out for performance reasons. The team offered the player this alibi to shield him from expected fan and media criticism, violating league policy in the process.
The club has been fined $3 million.
The club will forfeit its first-round draft choice in 2016. A further investigation will be made into the high volume of other injured reserve assignments that the Maple Leafs have made over the course of the 2015/16 season. The monetary fine will also count as a penalty towards next year’s Salary Cap, and the club will be unable to place this player on injured reserve under any circumstance next season.
The league now considers the matter closed and will have no further comment on the situation.
This is catastrophic news for the Leafs, who are currently in 29th place in the league’s standings and had a 13.5% chance of winning the draft lottery. Even if they were to fail to win the coveted “Auston Matthews Lottery”, the team was comfortably in a position to draft another blue chip prospect to add to a rapidly growing and emerging core.
It’s up to the Leafs to figure out where to go from here. They do still have a large supply of picks in this draft, and they’ll have some capacity to make additions through free agency (the $6 million in sanctions will likely rule out being in the Stamkos Sweepstakes, though). That’s another thing that makes this so weird; the Leafs are in good enough cap shape that Robidas’ assignment didn’t actually save them any money. While the 39-year-old was on LTIR, the Leafs barely snuck into Nathan Horton’s overage, let alone his.
One would expect that Robidas will officially retire shortly, now that there is no benefit to him being on the roster. It’s not the type of news you’d like to hear about in April, but certainly, the NHL has to prevent teams from being fools when the CBA is in play.