Don’t you just love junior hockey? Aside from the politics, favoritism, nepotism, and egos, we also have the game itself to counter all that negativity.
That pretty much sums up the last week in our world.
After yet another brief hospitalization last Monday, tomorrow I get wired up for a month of 24-hour heart monitorization. I’m told that the contraption is not waterproof and get to take it off for showers. So, all of you should expect to see my best behavior if that’s all its going to take to get the doctors, kids, family, friends, and wife off my back. Trust me folks, there’s nothing sexy about being banned from theme parks and airplanes.
NORTH AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE
The Austin Bruins are a trio of points ahead of Aberdeen and Minot in the race for the Central Division title as the month of October nears the end. Those three teams are on a combined 17-0-1-2 streak that should speak volumes about the state of the division. Bismarck is eight-points behind Austin with a pair of games less played.
The Johnstown Tomahawks close the month of October as the front-runners of the East Division. That’s the good news. Will they continue that trend or turn into a fully-cooked turkey by the end of November? Don’t laugh, it could happen, just look at some of the other guys. The last place Generals are just two-games under .500 in a division where any team can win, or lose, on any given night.
The Magicians have won eight of their last ten games and have built a somewhat surprising five-point lead in the Midwest Division. Janesville, Fairbanks, and Kenai River are separated by a point each. Chippewa continues to struggle and are winless in their last dozen outings.
Amarillo remains on top of the South Division after earning points in eight of their last ten games. Topeka remains within striking distance after splitting the home weekend with Fairbanks. Defending Robertson Cup Champion Shreveport is a .500 team in the last ten games yet remains within striking distance of the Bulls despite sitting in third-place.
The Law Firm of Cole Schotz has been retained by Richard Gallant to continuously monitor this portion of the Mash. With that said, I can’t help but wonder if junior hockey’s wrecking ball is being charged by the word, minute, or page.
So, lets have some fun with this.
I want to go ahead and go over ONE of the United States Premier Hockey League’s player agreements from a year ago, just to make this section interesting. The agreement itself is in bold type while my personal comments (regarding that section of the agreement) will follow in italics. Please note that my response may contain a high degree of sarcasm to keep this read interesting.
The by-product of this little practice is for Gallant’s attorneys to get a good understanding of why I despise what Gallant has done to the level of play. Maybe those guys will discover for themselves that such practices are even too dirty for generally limitless lawyers.
THIS JUNIOR PLAYER CONTRACT (the “AGREEMENT”) is by and between the player identified on Schedule A attached hereto (“PLAYER”), and, if PLAYER is under 18 years of age, such PLAYER’S parent or legal guardian identified on Schedule A attached hereto (“PARENT”), and CLUB NAME HERE, a STATE HERE limited liability company (“CLUB”) with a principal business address at ADDRESS HERE, and a member in good standing of the UNITED STATES PREMIER HOCKEY LEAGUE, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company commonly known as the United States Premier Hockey League (“USPHL”).
This AGREEMENT is established for the purpose of defining the obligations of the CLUB, the PLAYER and the PARENT for the 2017-2018 Season. As used herein, “Season” shall mean the period commencing with the CLUB’S first practice and concluding with the end of the CLUB’S final scheduled game, including all playoff games.
SH: Nothing out of the ordinary. Kind of like an electronic speed-limit sign before a heavy enforcement zone.
1. Exclusive Play. During the Season, the PLAYER hereby agrees to play amateur ice hockey exclusively for the CLUB. During the Season, PLAYER shall not participate or play in any other ice hockey events (with the exception of his native national teams, select camps, or tournaments) without the express written consent of the CLUB which shall be reasonably granted whenever such outside participation is determined by the CLUB to not be in conflict with the interests of the CLUB.
SH: Player can’t move up to United States Hockey League, NCAA Hockey, or even the Canadian Hockey League without the USPHL team’s permission. I can only guess that permission comes with a substantial price tag.
2. Regular Attendance. The PLAYER agrees that he shall attend all CLUB on-ice and off-ice sessions including, but not limited to games, practices, dry-land training, instructional sessions, team meetings and organized educational prep sessions, unless otherwise excused by the CLUB prior to such activity.
SH: Nothing to see here, move along.
3. Conduct. The PLAYER agrees that he will conduct himself on and off the ice in accordance with the highest standard of honesty, citizenship and sportsmanship. The PLAYER further agrees that he will not do anything that is materially detrimental or materially prejudicial to the best interests of the CLUB, recognizing that his behavior is representative of the CLUB at all times. The PLAYER further understands that the CLUB may dismiss PLAYER at will for failure to: (a) uphold the CLUB’s BILLET POLICY incorporated herein by reference (if applicable), (b) comply with applicable laws at all times, whether on or off the ice, or (c) behave in a lawful, honest and sportsmanlike manner. Any violation thereof shall, at the sole discretion of the CLUB, constitute a basis for suspension or termination of PLAYER and this AGREEMENT.
SH: What if the coach does it? How about the owner? Does such behavior by team staff trigger the termination of the player agreement (and refund of all fees and expenses)? Why not?
4. No Guaranty of Playing Time. The PLAYER acknowledges and agrees that this AGREEMENT does NOT constitute a guarantee of playing time, or of equal playing time, for the PLAYER and that all decisions regarding playing time shall be determined solely by the CLUB as it sees fit. PLAYER understands he will continually compete for a playing position, and that the CLUB makes no representation regarding the total number of players that the CLUB will carry at the PLAYER’S position. Skill and effectiveness in both practice and games are critical factors to playing time, which shall be determined in the CLUB’S sole discretion. PLAYER and PARENT understand that part of the player development process may include placement on any appropriate team operated by CLUB. All such teams are operated under the same rules and guidelines set forth by this AGREEMENT. In addition, PLAYER hereby agrees to ANY re-assignment from CLUB to another team within the organization, based on PLAYER’S performance.
SH: The old bait and switch. The club can sign 30 forwards for the NCDC team and move 20 of them to their pay-to-play teams? As far as the NCDC is concerned, I’m fine with the playing time decisions, players should have to earn that. What is dead wrong is the wording that can force players to other teams within the club’s structure…and those are pay-to-play teams. This is one of the exact reasons we do not recommend the NCDC as an option for our players.
5. No Guaranty of Improvement. The CLUB expressly does NOT guarantee or in any way promise or assure that it can improve the college or professional hockey potential of the PLAYER.
SH: This is kind of funny, so all that baloney about development is just that…baloney. “We can get you to NCAA Div. I hockey,” is the common recruiting line from almost all these clubs, but the contract says otherwise.
6. Applicable Rules. During the Season the CLUB will follow USPHL rules, including without limitation those pertaining to game and practice guidelines, ice availability, apparel, equipment, transportation and housing. The CLUB is in compliance with all USPHL standards.
SH: The USPHL has standards? Are those standards available to the public? If so, will somebody please email me a copy.
7. CLUB Activities. The CLUB shall be the sole beneficiary of ticket sales, donations, tuition fees, advertising and other revenues and assets of any kind that the PLAYER may generate, and the PLAYER shall not receive or be due any monetary or material compensation of any kind, except as set forth herein. The CLUB has the right to use any photograph, image or likeness of the PLAYER for promotional or instructional activity without compensation to PLAYER. PLAYER and PARENT (if applicable) expressly waive any/all right to compensation, monetary or otherwise, for use of PLAYER’S photograph, image, or likeness (regardless of the media used in connection therewith), and hereby authorize CLUB to use same as the CLUB sees fit.
SH: So, the team can sell the players’ likeliness to the highest bidder? For example, maybe a player spends a week with the NCDC team before the end of the season. The following season that same player lights up the USHL for 150 points and earns a full-ride to whatever U. That USPHL team decides to sell imagery of that player to WIN-BIG-CASINO.com who uses it to promote their new college hockey betting operation. Would that be an NCAA violation? Is there anything in this agreement that forbids USPHL team from doing so? If so, I don’t see it.
8. No Pay to Play. No tuition or fees shall be payable by PLAYER or PARENT for PLAYER’S right to play for the CLUB; provided, however, that PLAYER and PARENT (if applicable) shall be liable for all costs, damages and claims in accordance herewith.
SH: It’s not pay to play but player is liable for all costs, damages, and claims? That’s an interesting concept. Here is when things get confusing; if an NCDC player gets reassigned to the pay to play Premier or Elite level teams, he does not have to pay? Is that NOT considered an improper financial benefit? Could such an action jeopardize NCAA eligibility? Would that also be a breach of the Agreement by the Club? Is the Club subject to damages for such a result?
9. Equipment Use and Return. The CLUB shall provide PLAYER with all practice and game-equipment, uniforms and apparel, and sticks with the club’s vendor, except for skates and inside protective gear (collectively, “Equipment”). All Equipment worn by PLAYER (whether or not furnished by the CLUB) must be in compliance with USPHL regulations, and PLAYER shall be responsible for keeping all Equipment in compliance therewith. PLAYER hereby agrees to maintain all Equipment in clean and usable condition, ordinary wear and tear excepted. PLAYER hereby agrees to return all Equipment to CLUB upon PLAYER’S suspension or termination, or upon PLAYER’S resignation from the CLUB, or at the end of the Season. PLAYER and PARENT (if applicable) shall be liable to CLUB for all lost, stolen or non-returned Equipment, and for Equipment which is prematurely worn or broken due to abuse or neglect, at replacement cost.
SH: This includes the Player’s personal gear, which is included the definition of equipment. That’s going to be a heck of a rummage sale after the season. Second-hand skates, underwear, mouthpieces…
10. USPHL Membership Registration. All Players participating in the USPHL are required to register on line with the league. Please go to www.usphl.com and complete the player registration process and pay the associated fee to become eligible to play in 2017/2018.
SH: So it’s not REALLY free-to-play if league is getting $400 for NCDC players and maybe $250 more if dropped to Premier?
11. Governing Law. This AGREEMENT shall be governed and construed in accordance with the laws of the state in which the CLUB is located (the “State”), without regard to its choice of law principles. The parties hereto agree that any dispute concerning or arising from this AGREEMENT shall be heard in any Federal or state court of competent jurisdiction in the State. The PLAYER and PARENT agree to reimburse the CLUB for its reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs in the event that the CLUB is substantially the prevailing party in any action between the parties hereto.
SH: Now the strings. What happens if the Player has to file a lawsuit and wins?
12. Waiver of Trial by Jury. THE PARTIES HERETO HEREBY WAIVE ANY RIGHT TO A TRIAL BY JURY.
SH: Why is that? Maybe because a jury would likely see things for what they really are? Maybe folks should remember this is supposed to be an AMATEUR PLAYER AGREEMENT and not a one-sided deal that allows the team to take advantage of unsuspecting players and their families…in my non-expert legal opinion of course.
13. Value of Agreement; Breach. The parties hereto acknowledge and agree that the minimum value of the practice time, playing time, advice, game experience, and Equipment which the CLUB expects to provide to the PLAYER is not less than $5,000.00 (the “Minimum Value”). The parties hereto further acknowledge and agree that despite such acknowledgment, the Minimum Value shall not constitute a limitation on damages which the CLUB may suffer if PLAYER commits a breach of this Agreement. If PLAYER commits a breach of this Agreement, the CLUB shall be entitled to monetary damages against the PLAYER and PARENT and, in addition, may seek any other damages available, whether at law or in equity.
SH: If player is unhappy with situation, for any reason, he has to pay $5,000 (or more) to leave? Yes, this is beyond priceless.
14. Injunctive Relief. The PLAYER and PARENT acknowledge that any breach of Section 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8 or 9 is likely to result in immediate, irreparable harm to the CLUB, for which damages are not reasonably ascertainable. Therefore, the PLAYER and PARENT agree that upon a showing that the PLAYER or PARENT is about to breach, or has breached, any such Section, the CLUB shall be entitled to a preliminary injunction and other equitable relief as necessary to enjoin the PLAYER or PARENT from threatened, further or continuing breaches thereof. The PLAYER and PARENT agree to waive notice of such preliminary injunction hearing, and understand that ex parte relief may be sought by the CLUB. In no event shall the CLUB be liable for consequential, punitive, or damages other than actual damages, whether in contract or tort, for any breach of this AGREEMENT.
SH: Are you kidding me? The USPHL gets injunctive relief without notice for any player they feel is “about to breach.” Amazing. Remember, this is AMATEUR HOCKEY we are talking about.
15. Severability. If any provision of this AGREEMENT shall be invalid or unenforceable under any applicable law, such provisions shall not apply in such instance, but the remaining provisions shall be given their full effect in accordance with their terms.
SH: Where do we sign? This is an amazing gift to the game!
16. Survival. The provisions of Sections 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 19 shall survive the termination of this AGREEMENT.
SH: Does this mean the agreement is never ending? The club can bring legal action even after the end of the season?
17. No Waiver. The waiver by a party hereto of any term, provision or condition hereof shall not be construed as a waiver of any other term, provision or condition, nor shall such waiver be deemed a waiver of any subsequent breach of said term, condition or provision.
SH: I’m just an old guy here but, this entire document could be used as toilet paper in an underdeveloped country.
18. Execution. This AGREEMENT may be signed by ‘pdf’ or facsimile and in counterparts.
19. Amendments. This AGREEMENT may be amended or modified only by written instrument executed by each of the parties hereto.
20. Headings. The headings and subheadings of Sections of this AGREEMENT and/or any schedule or exhibit attached hereto are for convenience of reference only and shall not constitute part of or define or limit any of the provisions of this AGREEMENT or such schedule or exhibit.
21. Entire Agreement. This AGREEMENT (together with schedules and exhibits attached hereto) constitutes the entire agreement between the parties hereto and can only be modified by a written agreement signed by the PLAYER, PARENT (if applicable), and the CLUB. All prior or contemporaneous oral representations are of no force or effect. All schedules and exhibits attached hereto are incorporated herein by reference.
SH: This basically says the club can promise the moon and deliver a pile of poop.
22. Not an Offer. The tendering by the CLUB of this AGREEMENT to the PLAYER or to PARENT shall not constitute an offer to said PLAYER, it being expressly understood that until the CLUB’s Director of Hockey Operations countersigns this AGREEMENT, the terms herein are of no force or effect.
SH: Now that my blood pressure is lowering a bit, I must ask one serious question. Why in the heck would any parent or player sign such an incredibly one-sided agreement? Not my kids.
A well-established California parent once said it best. “As a father, I wouldn’t let my son sign that Agreement. As an attorney, I wouldn’t let my client sign that Agreement. If it’s a “business”, then be up front about it, treat as a “business agreement”, and tell me what you’re going to, as the Club, as “consideration” for my son playing for you. It’s clearly not about the development of my son.” Well said Dad, well said.
The Mash brings the most interesting takes from the week of junior hockey. In general, the idea is to remain positive. With that said, please understand that it will, at times, open a few eyeballs to the underside of the level of play.
The Mash contains my personal opinions. Any views or opinions represented in this article are my personal opinions. My opinions do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner of this website may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated.
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