NHLPA files grievance over broken camera

March, 21, 2012
3/21/12
8:20
PM ET
And so we bring you the latest installment of the battle that’s shaping up between the NHL and NHL Players’ Association for this summer.

The NHLPA filed a grievance over the Edmonton Oilers docking $13,000 from Ben Eager's pay, multiple sources have confirmed to ESPN.com.

Say what, you say?

Let’s explain.

It all started during a game in Vancouver on Dec. 26 when the Oilers’ tough guy shattered an HD camera in the penalty box, as seen in the video below.

The Canucks informed the Oilers they were on the hook for the $13,000 cost of replacing that camera. 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.

On the flip side, you can’t blame teams for wanting players to pay for any damages caused at the rink. It’s an interesting debate.

The grievance hearing has not been scheduled yet.

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.

And even if the CBA wasn't expiring, in many ways this is what a union would likely do: protect a member's wages.

Stay tuned.

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