Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Tallon’s Blunder

15

Per TSN:

Sources tell TSN the NHL and the NHLPA are investigating what might have been an enormous mistake by the Chicago Blackhawks.

Chicago tendered qualifying offers to several key players this week, including Kris Versteeg, Cam Barker, Ben Eager, Colin Fraser, Aaron Johnson and Troy Brouwer, however the investigation underway is to determine whether the qualifying offers were filed correctly…

Chicago general manager Dale Tallon says the qualifying offers were mailed to the players in time, on June 29th, but says because of the July 1 holiday, some of the players didn’t receive them in time.

If the player did not receive the offers in time, they did not receive them at all. If they did not receive them in time, they are unrestricted free agents. How can it be otherwise? If I represented Kris Versteeg and he had not received his qualifying offer by the deadline, I would immediately announce that my client was an unrestricted free agent and open the bidding for his services.

That we have not heard from any of the agents involved makes me wonder whether we have heard the entire story. This is a set of circumstances where the agent has to stand up for the player because nobody else is going to do it.

Both the NHL and NHLPA will prefer it if they can find a way to wink at Tallon’s blunder. Nobody wants to see the Hawks take this sort of blow just as they are set to become one of the league’s top revenue drivers. Paul Kelly in particular would like to kick Tallon in the balls because his interests in the matter are conflicted every which way. He wants Chicago revenues, too, and while Tallon’s mistake benefits a handful of players it is the rest of the players who pay the price. That egregious management errors are paid for by the players is the most distasteful part of the CBA.

What an incredible blunder. Tallon waited until June 29th to mail out offers that had to be in the player’s hands by July 1st? Inexcusable. I’d fire him for it no matter how this turns out.

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Comments

15 Responses to “Tallon’s Blunder”
  1. rajeev says:

    Lamoriello made a similar mistake with John Madden years ago when he was coming off his entry level deal. NJ kept it hush hush and they were able to sign him to a reasonable deal without a bidding war taking place. No one seems to be remember it much or hold it against uncle Lou these days. But you’re right, the agents are inept if they’re not campaigning loudly for unrestricted free agency.

  2. Tom says:

    Actually if I remember correctly, the deal was not all that reasonable. Madden got a much better contract that he might otherwise have achieved.

  3. rajeev says:

    Yea but not nearly as much money as he would have received on the open market, I don’t think. I think both sides wanted him to remain in NJ. This was the days of wild spending and no cap. Can you imagine what a 27-year old selke candidate would have received on the open market?

  4. Tom says:

    Didn’t it also happen with Rafalski the same year? My memories aren’t as sharp as they used to be. I agree that neither player got what they could have made, but both were pretty happy in New Jersey.

    Two things different here: First, Tallon did it with six players, not two. Second, Lou was able to solve the problem with cash. Tallon can’t do that because of the salary cap.

    I see this as sort of a test for the NHLPA. One thing they absolutely should do is make sure teams abide by the CBA. We’ll find out, I think, whether a player’s individual welfare counts for them when set against maximising revenues and the collective welfare.

  5. IAmJoe says:

    I don’t even think the “collective welfare” should even be an issue here. If you look at the Blackhawk’s salary situation going forward, Versteeg and Barker were obviously going to have a hard time staying Blackhawks for more than another year anyways (or they stay and some combination of Toews/Kane/Keith has to go). Salary cap mismanagement appears to have already spelled the end for at least two of those five players in a Blackhawks uniform, so what does it matter if CHI loses two of them now or two of them next year? Further, just because the team is going to lose several RFA’s to a boneheaded move, the team won’t suddenly stop being immensely profitable in the wake of its revival into relevance. They still have a pretty decent core, even without those 6 players. The main focus here should be the individual player rights.

  6. Gerald says:

    What an incredible blunder. Tallon waited until June 29th to mail out offers that had to be in the player’s hands by July 1st? Inexcusable. I’d fire him for it no matter how this turns out.

    To make matters worse, as I read section 10.2 of the CBA, the deadline for the offer being in the hands of the player is not July 1, but rather June 29 of this year. It is expressed as the later of June 25 or the first Monday following the entry draft.

    The CBA is not crystal clear on this. The team is required to “tender” the qualifying offer to the player. There is no definition of the term within the agreement, and there is no specific provision as to how tender is performed or when the tender becomes effective – or at least none that I could find on a quick search.

    The closest to the above that exists within the CBA are the notice delivery provisions in the CBA’s Exhibit 3. That provision specifies fax or overnight mail delivery or, if those methods are not available, “the next most reasonable and efficient service available . . . provided that such service provides a written verification or other record of delivery.” Query whether tender procedures are covered by provisions governing notice. In the absence of anything else governing tenders, though, the Hawks would be in trouble on this issue.

    I too wonder whether something may be unreported here. Why would the Blackhawks not simply fax the offers?

  7. Baroque says:

    For a document that required a year-long lockout to reach, this CBA seems to be horribly written and leave a lot of the basics vague. Editing would have helped.

  8. Tom says:

    If you look at the Blackhawk’s salary situation going forward, Versteeg and Barker were obviously going to have a hard time staying Blackhawks for more than another year anyways (or they stay and some combination of Toews/Kane/Keith has to go). Salary cap mismanagement appears to have already spelled the end for at least two of those five players in a Blackhawks uniform, so what does it matter if CHI loses two of them now or two of them next year?

    I think it makes a huge difference. Next year might represent the single best chance the Hawks have to win over the next five years. And while the Hawks would have had to shed talent anyway, there is some advantage to choosing what they lose and how the talent is lost. Dealing surplus talent for draft picks is a lot better than letting a Calder finalist walk away as a free agent.

    Further, just because the team is going to lose several RFA’s to a boneheaded move, the team won’t suddenly stop being immensely profitable in the wake of its revival into relevance. They still have a pretty decent core, even without those 6 players.

    No doubt, but it could be the difference between having an okay year and a long playoff run. The revenue difference would be significant both for the Hawks and the league. The longer term impact on TV is even greater for the league.

    I said throughout the lockout that the dispute was about saving New York, Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles. In this respect, Bettman has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. The lockout failed only if we believed Bettman when he pretended it was about rescuing the weak markets.

    Nothing would do more for the league than a Chicago Stanley Cup, except maybe a Ranger Stanley Cup. Losing these six assets would be a tremendous blow to the chance of a Chicago Stanley Cup in the next five years.

  9. Gerald says:

    Just as an aside, I have had the benefit of reviewing the relevant clauses again, wwith the aid of another lawyer on another Board, and clause 10.2 does clearly specify the use of exhibit 3. It is still an open question as to what constitutes a tender under the CBA, but at least they did specify the notice provision’s usage.

    It would seem to be amazing that the Blackhawks could muck this up. Time will tell.

  10. Tom says:

    I think it speaks to a basic incompetence. I don’t think Tallon is qualified for the job. There is no reason to delay once the Chicago season ends. The decisions are not hard and the offers should be virtually automatic.

  11. Roberto says:

    If they are declared free agents, I wonder if the Canucks might be able to make a play for Barker and/or Versteeg? Dare to dream…

  12. Gerald says:

    I think it speaks to a basic incompetence. I don’t think Tallon is qualified for the job. There is no reason to delay once the Chicago season ends. The decisions are not hard and the offers should be virtually automatic.

    I could understand SOME delay, in case (god forbid) the player sustains some serious career-threatening injury after the season is over, but I cannot imagine why it would not be done after mid-June at worst. What would be even more surprising is if the B-Hawks have been doing it this way and an agent did not catch the oversight before.

  13. Robert Cleave says:

    but I cannot imagine why it would not be done after mid-June at worst

    No kidding. Making sure that the 4 regulars were looked after should have been the absolute minimum done. The QOs would have been 1,000,000 for Barker, 709,000 for Brouwer, 660,000 for Eager, and 540,000 for Versteeg. How do you not commit those numbers to paper? The QO form isn’t exactly complex, and the formula to calculate the offers isn’t difficult either. I realize Barker and Versteeg in particular would never sign for those numbers, but how do you even trifle with a deadline that protects your interests? They might get away with it in the end, but that doesn’t make it any less ridiculous.

  14. Roberto says:

    http://espn.go.com/chicago/columns/blog?post=4313629&name=cimaglia

    Versteeg and Barker signed today for $9M/9.25M over 3 years. Makes you wonder what they could have got them for had they qualified them.

  15. Roberto says:

    … and Tallon is “reassigned” while Bowman replaces.him as GM.

    You have to wonder if this was Tallon’s goof, or if someone in his office screwed up and he took full responsibility for it. Which of course he has to.

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