An unfortunate ATV accident could rob Minnesota Wild forward James Sheppard of as many as four months of hockey, but it’s quite possible the incident might also make an impact on his $800K-plus salary.
Ken Campbell of The Hockey News points out the fact that there is a provision in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that could allow the team to suspend Sheppard for engaging in a dangerous activity, thus recouping quite a bit of money from the middling depth player.
However, Fletcher did contend there are provisions in the collective bargaining agreement and the standard player contract to deal with such issues. It would be up to the Wild, and not the NHL, to decide whether or not it wants to suspend Sheppard and that remains a possibility.
Players are paid on a per-day basis and with the 2010-11 season spanning 186 days, Sheppard is scheduled to earn about $4,319 per day. The Wild might not think it’s worth creating bad feelings with the player for such a relatively negligible amount, but if it does, it could rely on provisions of the standard player contract.
In the SPC, it states that, “If the player, in the judgment of the club’s physician, is disabled or is not in good physical condition at the commencement of the season or at any subsequent time during the seasons (unless such condition is the direct result of any injury sustained during the course of his employment as a hockey player with the club, including travel with his team or on business requested by the club) so as to render him unfit to play skilled hockey, then it is mutually agreed that the club shall have the right to suspend the player for such period of disability or unfitness, and no compensation shall be payable for that period under this SPC.”
It goes on to say that, “In connection with a disability which is not caused by an injury sustained in the course of his employment as a hockey player…he shall not be entitled to the benefits of this agreement until he has been declared to be physically fit to play.”
Things weren’t that great for Sheppard to begin with, as many fans were irate that the team decided to give their first round pick gone awry another chance in the first place.
Suspension or not, this could end up being a career ending injury for Sheppard, at least when it comes to the NHL. Even if he plays again, my guess is that Minnesota’s patience is wearing very thin.