The other day, George Malik posted an article at Kuklas Korner about the recent situation with the demotion of Wade Redden to the AHL. In the article, George states what I also thought was true, that demoted players' salaries still count towards the Players' Share owed when final escrow responsibilities are calculated. A commenter from HFBoards visited and set the record straight. George, being the stand-up guy that he is, wrote a mea culpa about the misunderstanding after getting a quote directly from the NHLPA that confirms the situation. Here's what NHLPA spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon had to say when asked, as also posted in George's article today:
On background, salaries paid to players on one-way contracts who are not in the NHL (i.e. Huet, Redden) are not included in the salaries that are used to determine the Players’ share of the overall HRR.
Boiled down, this means that Redden's and Huet's salaries will continue to be paid to the players, but these do not at all factor in to the Players' Share. These two buried contracts have no affect on increasing the escrow owed back to the league by the players at the end of the year (if any is needed). Furthermore, the CBA states that ALL players pay into escrow as long as they're under contract, so the buried players are paying into an escrow pot whose size is unaffected by the remainder of the money they made. Of course, I will not cry for Redden or Huet in this circumstance, but I do owe everybody a correction because of this issue too. [EDIT - according to player agent Rand Simon, players in the AHL do not pay into Escrow. Update via Malik]
In the article in which I called burying Huet's contract in the minors or in Europe a circumvention of the spirit of the cap in light of the Richard Bloch ruling on the Kovalchuk case, I wrote this:
The Players' Association ultimately shouldn't be happy that there's a $5.6M goaltender going to a foreign league, but this isn't a fight for them to pick, unless they want to pick it from an angle that the money going to pay Huet in Europe should in no way be counted as part of the players' share when calculating how much escrow they'll have to give back next year.
...Chicago's punishment will be off the books here as it should be; it will come in the form of many free agents' second-guessing whether they want to voluntarily sign a contract with the organization that may try to hide your salary in Europe if they make a change to their team's strategy that doesn't include you or your albatross contract and it will come in the form of what essentially constitutes a $5.6 million fine for moving Huet to Europe.
Seems that this is exactly the punishment both Chicago and the Rangers are receiving thanks to those two bad contracts.
I would like to note that this clarification in no way changes my thought that burying NHL-caliber talent outside of the NHL for little more than cap room is a circumvention of the spirit of the cap, considering the Rangers and Blackhawks can afford to do this while other teams can't. Without charging into a diatribe about competitive balance and the like, I believe that cap hits over $1 million should remain on a team's books regardless of whether the player is in the minors. The Rangers were one of the biggest teams clamoring for rules in this CBA which would protect them from themselves and their own out-of-control spending and it seems that they've found a loophole that allows themselves to stay in spending trouble. I think it would be beneficial to both sides to close this loophole.