The National Hockey League Players’ Association has filed a grievance against the Tampa Bay Lightning for terminating the contract of goalie Riku Helenius, according to Syracuse.com. Jonathan Weatherdon, the NHLPA’s director of communications, confirmed the news to Syracuse.com on Wednesday night but did not divulge any details or additional information.
Helenius, the Bolts’ first-round pick at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, had his one-way, $650,000 contract terminated in February due to breach of contract. Tampa Bay didn’t stipulate specific reasons for termination at the time and, upon being contacted on Wednesday, assistant GM Julien BriseBois reiterated neither he nor the club had any comment on the matter.
Helenius and his agent, Jay Grossman, were unable to be reached for comment.
Here’s more on the Helenius back story, from Syracuse.com:
Helenius was a first-round pick by Tampa Bay in the 2006 draft. He skated for Norfolk in 2008-09 and 2009-10 before going overseas to play in Sweden and then his native Finland.
The Lightning lured him back before the the 2012-13 season with a two-year deal that included the one-way provision this year.
Helenius was 17-14, .900, 2.57 for the Crunch last year, a season that was marred by tragedy when his mother died after a long illness.
Helenius started this season 2-3, 3.43, .875 for the Crunch before he lost his spot when rookie Kristers Gudlevskis was promoted from Florida.
Helenius initially balked at an assignment to Florida of the ECHL, as was his contractual right. He then agreed to the demotion but left the Everblades late last month, a move that led to a breach of contract suspension.
Helenius ended that suspension by agreeing to return to Florida, but that was a technicality. Florida moved on without him, Syracuse didn’t need him anymore and he sat idle while BriseBois tried to place him somewhere.
“We were hoping for a different outcome. I’m sure he was as well,” BriseBois said of bringing back Helenius last year. “I don’t think it was a mistake to bring him over. You’ll never find out if you don’t try.”
Protocol says this will now go to an independent arbitrator hired jointly by the league and players’ union.