NHL: Hurt At Olympic Camp? That’s A Suspension

For many athletes, there’s no thrill quite like representing their country in the Olympics. Granted, it usually helps when they’re good and/or have a shot at success. But by and large, Olympics = teh good.

Sweden Hockey
(Fools, all of you!)

To that end, the NHLPA’s collective bargaining agreement protects players’ contracts during Olympic play. Seems standard. Oh, but there’s more to the Olympics than actually participating in the games themselves - specifically, there’s a summer orientation camp for hockey players, and you’d think that was covered too.

Yes, you’d think that.

Turns out, according to NHL agent Allan Walsh and PUCK DADDY, that’s not so true. Via Walsh’s Twitter feed:

Shocking but true. The NHL has sent out a memo that it will not honor NHL contract for a player injured at a summer Olympic training camp.

As follow up, found out NHL teams directed to suspend and not pay any player injured in Summer Olympic Orientation camp.

It sounds unbelievable, but it’s true. The NHL has looked at the CBA and, apparently, decided that orientation camp doesn’t fall under its definition of Olympic play.

Now, look. Your opinion of this should basically hinge on whether you think the NHLPA crafted the CBA with the understanding that injuries during the Olympics would be covered by insurance but no pre-Olympic business would. If that’s your interpretation of the NHLPA’s intent, then it probably seems like they’re being greedy here.

But that’s a bizarre way to look at it, considering the way the actual players (and, if Walsh is any indication, their representation) are responding to the NHL’s decision. Quoth the Puckfather:

The players have, however, been vocal about participating in all facets of orientation camp. Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes said recently, “I haven’t lived my life or played hockey thinking I’m going to get hurt or seriously injured.”

No, the more immediately plausible interpretation seems to be that the NHL found a loophole that could potentially save them some money - at the expense of a player in what would probably be his direst time of need. Now granted, if we’re just talking about a broken ankle, then we probably don’t have an enormous calamity on our hands - just enough of a dick move by the league to seriously sour relations between the two sides.

The NHL has already suffered enough due to disagreements between management and labor. It certainly doesn’t need this further acrimony over something ultimately insignificant like insurance costs.