NHL & NHLPA Ready To Avoid Total War?

In a previous posting, I discussed the legal reality of “constructive breach of contract”, which could be argued by the Senators should they be forced to either accept a clearly undervalued return on Heatley, or be forced to have him return to Ottawa.

“Constructive Breach:  Occurs when the party bound to perform does some act that disables him from performing under the contract.”

Unless Heatley can demonstrate a clear situation in which the Senators first “constructively breached” their contract, he would be responsible for having created the toxic environment the team now finds itself in vis a vis Dany Heatley.

In plain terms, if Heatley cannot point to a situation the Senators created, and refused to remedy, which caused undue harm to Dany Heatley, and effectively breached the good faith of their contract, by making his working conditions impossible to accept, he is responsible for having placed the Senators into a scenario where they are forced to suffer damages as a result of no fault of their own.

Dany Heatley, through his voluntary actions, has breached the “good faith” of his contract.

Could this render the contract void?


Reasonably, should a court, or arbitrator be forced to rule on this situation, and found in favour of the Sens contention of “constructive breach of contract” by Dany Heatley, Heatley, or someone deemed responsible by the court, would have to make up for the difference in value the Senators either have, or received for Dany, and what his value would have been prior to Heatleys actions.

I know, it is all becomming a mess.  And once (and don’t think, at least on the sidelines) the lawyers get involved, this will devolve quickly.

By paying Heatley, Melnyk has actually indemnified his relationship with Heatley, allowing him to show damages should they be realized.  As of right now, that has yet to occur.

Had he refused to pay Heatley, the he would have been seen to be acting outside the confines of the contract, otherwise justified or not.  It is the courts who decide if he has the right to not pay Heatley, not Melnyk.  By paying him, he looks to be behaving in good faith, and mitigating his losses, vs. worsening the situation

Apparently, the league and NHLPA are both examining this situation, and no doubt, both understand it is in the best interest of all involved to protect the universal integrity of contracts rather than support the destabilizing, and obviously unreasonable desires of one individual.

To allow this to proceed to the courts could be incredibly destabilizing…and ultimately, for what…Dany Heatleys narcissistic demands?

Not gonna happen, to much at stake, for all involved.

Like I said, one small act, if not contained, can quickly spiral out of control, sucking everyone into it’s vortex.



3 Responses to “NHL & NHLPA Ready To Avoid Total War?”

  1. Not only would most any contract claim not work – including constructive breach – but there’s also absolutely no remedy in the situation.

    • I’m not so sure about that, as all contracts are founded on the principle of good faith and endemnifying the parties interests. If one side can show they’ve suffered unreasonable damages, through no fault of their own, they have grounds for redress.

      • There’s nothing to show that Dany Heatley has not dealt in good faith.

        Really, the problem is the contract itself. Dany Heatley has a contract that says he gets paid 4M on July 1st, and that he cannot be moved unless he agrees to a move. Nothing he’s done has breached that.

        Also, the Sens are going to have a heck of a time showing damages. Are these damages because they don’t have Cogliano, Penner, and Smid on their team? What if this works out in the team’s favour in the end?

        Right now, people need to stop thinking about legal issues because nothing has happened yet.

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