In a Dec. 26 game against Vancouver at Rogers Arena, Edmonton Oilers forward Ben Eager was given a two-minute slashing penalty at 5:24 of the second period. It was Eager’s second penalty of the night — he was whistled for cross-checking in the opening frame — and he was clearly incensed with the call.
The end result was a broken HD camera and the Canucks telling the Oilers they were on the hook for replacement costs — to the tune of $13,000. And that’s when things got interesting, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun:
The Oilers then turned around and docked Eager’s pay (from his $1 million salary).
At which point the NHLPA took umbrage and, last month, filed a grievance.
The union’s real beef here, from what I’m told, is procedural more than anything. In no way is the NHLPA condoning its players breaking cameras. But the union wants to know who decided the camera was worth $13,000? Why wasn’t the player invoiced instead of simply docked, for example? So the NHLPA has process questions here, not the least of which is where the line will be drawn in future instances when a player damages something at the rink.
This might seem like a non-story, but do consider the following:
— The current status of the NHL/NHLPA relationship is, how you say in the English, precarious. The NHLPA already shot down realignment and as the current CBA expiration day draws closer and closer, things get more and more uncomfortable.
— As LeBrun writes: “You must keep in mind the undercurrent of the labor strife that’s on the horizon when viewing this whole episode. Just as when the NHLPA blocked realignment, the union will take every opportunity it can to flex its muscles ahead of the CBA talks.”
— There’s no set date for the grievance hearing.
Finally…what’s the deal with weird stuff going on whenever Eager goes to the penalty box in Vancouver?