NHL penalizes Maple Leafs for abuse of Long Term Injured Reserve

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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.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Gary I thought it was the fine wine from last night that has me in a catatonic stupor. As I read the article I reached for the blood pressure pill bottle. Indeed a fine April Fools joke.

    Years ago I was doing P.R. for an astronomy association and every April 1st. I would send out a press release that astronomers had decided to rename a heavenly object. One year I suggested that the planet Uranus was offensive to some individuals and thus I ran a contest for a new name. Most people sent in the name of their least favourite politician.

    The final choice was mine and thus Uranus was renamed Harold Ballard.

    Cheers:

    Well not till it is 5:00 o’clock some where as I bask in the 22 degree sun out here in God’s country.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Thank god for the comment section.

    I had to get up at 4 this morning to get ready for a flight to Atlanta, made my coffee and sat down while waiting for it to brews. Checked to see the scores etc, and in my ether forgot what date it was…. Needless to say, I didn’t have to have my coffee to wake up.

  • Harte of a Lion

    For once you guys got everyone else, after last years pranks, I was ready for something

    Last year after reading a PPP joke I actually looked up Radulov on HockeyDB before realizing “April Fools” on me

  • Jeremy Ian

    DONT MESS WITH LEAFS NATION poor taste for a column.Havent we suffered enough without having a FOOL write a fool joke. GROW UP what are you still a little kid putting exlax in your teachers coffee? just kidding got to love it bet guys reading it were crapping in their corn flakes. well done