If you, the reader, like myself has been wondering what in the heck Martin Biron has been doing on the Rangers reserve list on capgeek.com since announcing his "retirement" back in October, worry no more. Mystery solved.
Yesterday we learned the following:
NY Rangers place M.Biron on Unconditional Waivers for purposes to terminate the contract.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) January 6, 2014
When players retire from the NHL, they can go one of two ways...
First is formally submitting their retirement papers to the NHL league office. As we've learned with Ilya Kovalchuk, who formally retired from the NHL to go play in the KHL, Kovalchuk wouldn't be able to return to the NHL until he reached the age of 35 without unanimous consent of each NHL club, unless he sat a season, in which case he would only need the Devils' consent, per NHL bylaw 8.5 (c).
A second route can also be taken and this is what I believe the Rangers have done with Biron. When the Rangers placed Biron on regular waivers along with Arron Asham on October 15th, the Rangers may have formally asked Biron to accept an assignment to Hartford. When Biron took to twitter a few days later to announce his retirement, thus subsequently denying his assignment, per Exhibit 1 Section 11 of the NHL- NHLPA CBA, Biron "may be suspended by such other club and no Paragraph 1 Salary shall be payable to him during the period of such suspension." In other words, Biron wouldn't be paid his NHL salary from the Rangers and his full cap hit would come off the books, which is what happened.
However, it is unknown whether or not Biron has been receiving his bi-monthly game checks from the Rangers since "retiring."
Fast forward to Monday. Darren Dreger reports Biron was placed on unconditional waivers to officially terminate his contract with the Rangers. Section 13.21 of the CBA says (a) When a Club desires to terminate a Player's SPC for any reason, such action may not be taken until Unconditional Waivers have been requested and cleared in conformity with this Article.
And right underneath that....
(b) Subsection (a) hereof is not applicable to a Player whose name is being placed on the Voluntarily Retired List.
What this means is Biron has left himself an open door back into the NHL this season in case a team came knocking for his services without the red tape Kovalchuk would have to deal with in case he decided he wanted to come back to the NHL. Kovalchuk, as well as Markus Naslund a few years ago were not placed on unconditional waivers, but filed for retirement directly with the NHL and both players forfeited remaining salary on their respective contracts. Each NHL club is allowed 50 roster spots and once Biron clears unconditional waivers, which will happen when this piece is published, he comes off the Rangers reserve list and is a unrestricted free agent. With Biron's contract voided, the Rangers sit with 48 contracts.
Apologies for the long winded ramble. This issue has stumped me for months.
Follow me on twitter: @NYRblogneill
Bottom line: despite months of lockout to negotiate terms and conditions, there is always a hole or a work-around, some in the players favor, others in the leagues. But when there's a way to circumvent the cap, Glen Sather figures it out.