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NHLPA files grievance against Tampa Bay Lightning

Image (1) Veilleux-thumb-250x166-11248.jpg for post 1541

The situation in Tampa Bay, as the team searches for a general manager, is getting a bit messy as we learn that the NHLPA is planning on filing a grievance against the Lightning on pending free agent Stephane Veilleux.

According to a report by Michael Russo of the Minnesota Star-Tribune, agent Alan Walsh is saying that the team is refusing to pay for a shoulder surgery for Veilleux because of their claim that the injury is not hockey related. The injury was first discovered during end of the season physicals, and a second opinion by Wild doctors diagnosed Veilleux with a torn labrum.

“They acknowledge when he left Minnesota and was examined by the Wild doctors in the end-of-season medical [in 2009], he was fine, so this was not a previous injury,” said Walsh. “And the same Lightning doctor that detected this problem and became suspicious at the end of this season cleared him at the beginning of the season because both shoulders had the same level of strength.”

“Tampa’s response is,'Yes, our doctor agrees, it has to be fixed now, he definitely has a torn labrum and he needs surgery, however, it’s not a hockey-related injury, so we’re not responsible,” Walsh said.

The Lightning are claiming that since they cannot pinpoint an exact moment that the injury occurred, they say that the injury was perhaps a result of Veilleux’s frequent ping pong playing. Since the Lightning claim the injury was not hockey related, then they are not bound by the CBA to pay for his surgery.

Walsh says the NHLPA is moving forward with a grievance as soon as possible so that the surgery can happen sooner than later.

It’s rare that a team will flat out refuse to pay for a surgery and there’s been instances where the team even covers non-hockey related injuries. With the team unable to actually prove that the injury is or isn’t hockey-related it will be interesting to see how the grievance plays out. Since a torn labrum can happen over time, through games and games of hitting and flat out just playing hockey, there’s a good chance a ruling will go in favor of Veilleux.

Even if the Lightning are able to win their case, it’s a losing situation for the team. The Lightning will now have the reputation of a team that won’t take care of their own players. Not exactly what a team needs to have while trying to land quality free agents. It’s not as if Veilleux was injured while snowboarding, and no matter what the team might say there’s no way they can prove he was injured while playing ping pong.