We started the day with the post “I don’t think Ryan O’Reilly can play in the NHL this season,” and then followed with “Why I’m Wrong and Everyone is … Also Wrong.” Now, Jay Feaster has spoken, and people have written on the topic of his speaking. And I was all set to write a post on the topic of just how stupid everything he said was, and what a laughing stock he is.
But when I went to write it, I found I agreed with him. Feaster is right. His interpretation of the CBA is correct. It’s not even that hard to understand, if you actually read the pertinent bits (see “Why I’m Wrong” above). Actually, the only fault I can find in Feaster is that I wouldn’t have said “we don’t agree with the NHL’s interpretation” or whatever he said (it’s in the article below). I would have said, “I know how to read, and I know what the CBA says and it says I’m right and you’re all wrong.” But I suppose he has to be polite or political about it.
I don’t, however.
So, here’s Sports Illustrated, pandering away on CBA-related facts it doesn’t understand.
Not true. The 2013 CBA summary document specifically wipes out that rule (13.23) in the case of unsigned players. O’Reilly was unsigned. I personally find the amended rule to be nonsense. But it’s clear nonsense. I couldn’t tell you why they changed the rule to what they changed it to. But the fact that they did change it is undeniable. Just as it’s undeniable that O’Reilly doesn’t have to clear waivers. The relevant quotes and comparisons are here.
And that would have meant only one thing: O’Reilly would have been claimed by another team (likely Columbus) and the Flames would have given away a first- and third-round pick for nothing.
All because Feaster and his staff didn’t bother to contact the league and make absolutely certain that there was no misunderstanding of this CBA clause. But while he didn’t lose the picks, he may have lost something more valuable: the trust of Calgary’s ownership in his ability to move forward. Prior to tendering the offer sheet for Ryan O’Reilly we, as a hockey operations department, examined whether there were any impediments to our successfully securing the services of the player including, but not limited to, his having played in the KHL after the start of the current NHL season “Our interpretation of the Article 13 transition rules governing restricted free agents (“RFA”), and the applicability of Article 13.23 under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement to such RFA’s was, and continues to be, different than the NHL’s current interpretation as articulated to us this morning. While we were prepared to advance our position with the NHL, in light of Colorado’s having matched the offer sheet it is now an academic point. As such, we will have no further comment on the matter, the player, or the offer sheet process.”
This is amazing, George Costanza-esque excuse making.
They had a different interpretation but were “prepared to advance their position” to the league? That’s great…but shouldn’t their position have been in concert with the league from the start of the offer sheet process? And if there was any doubt, shouldn’t Feaster have asked before signing O’Reilly?
Hey, it’s a new CBA with some elements that are still evolving. There’s no shame in saying, “I don’t know” and making sure you’re on the same page before making a franchise-altering decision. Because 100 times out of 100, the league’s position is going to carry the day in a dispute. How could Feaster not understand that?
Or, how about this: what if Feaster realized that GMs have not been offer-sheeting O’Reilly because of a general mis-reading of the new CBA. Remember that GMs didn’t write the thing. They’re stuck interpreting it along with everyone else.
Maybe Feaster wasn’t an idiot. Maybe he spotted an advantage — namely, that he could offer-sheet O’Reilly and not expose him to waivers because of the rule change — and maaaaaybe he didn’t want to ask the league for clarification because he didn’t want to tip his hand and have another team offer-sheet the kid before he did.
In other words, maybe Feaster knew exactly what he was doing.
And maybe his mealy-mouthed explanation is just his attempt not to piss off the league by calling them idiots who don’t even know what their own CBA says.
If I have an extra few minutes, maybe I’ll put together a greatest hits of Bill Daly’s serial confusion when it comes to elements of the CBA. You know, just for fun.