Cross Checks: Ben Eager
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?
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.
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Kyle Wellwood's smile midway through his answer said it all.
"It's been a real nice transition for me from Russia to San Jose," Wellwood told ESPN.com on Wednesday after practice.
Do you think? Six months ago, his NHL career appeared over as he plied his trade halfway around the world. Now he's entering the NHL playoffs on a Cup contender, his NHL career seemingly salvaged as he's meshed on a third line with Joe Pavelski and Torrey Mitchell.
"Certainly what's happened this year makes you realize how quickly things can finish for you, finish your career," Wellwood said. "To get a chance now to play on a contending team is something special. I hope Lady Luck smiles on this team and it's the year."
Marleau at centerPatrick Marleau took most of the line rushes at center between Joe Thornton and Devin Setoguchi at Wednesday's practice. Usually Thornton is the center on that top line, although late in the regular season, Marleau took a lot of faceoff draws.
"We're all interchangeable in our system," Marleau shrugged when we asked him about it after practice.
Sharks coach Todd McLellen said he felt it important Marleau get some work in on faceoffs the last few weeks, because he'll be needed in the faceoff draw come playoff time.
Eager for a repeatRugged fourth-line winger Ben Eager hopes to make it two springs in a row with a perfect ending. He won a Stanley Cup in Chicago last year and sees parallels in the team chemistry with the Sharks this year.
"I think the room in Chicago last year was similar," Eager said Wednesday. "Everyone got along with everyone. It was a close group of guys. And everyone looks out for everyone here in San Jose. I think we've got a team that can make a long run here."