Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Medical Bills

Everyone's (Twitter's) favourite NHL player agent is at it again - this time taking the Tampa Bay Lightning to task:

"Everyone thought that with respectable new owner, things would change in Tampa. Time for Mr. Vinik to step up and do the right thing here."

Octagon Hockey's Allan Walsh is referring to a situation facing one of his clients, Stephane Veilleux, who is being left out to dry when it comes to the medical bills for a postseason shoulder surgery.

Walsh says the team is claiming it's not financially responsible for the procedure, which will treat a "spinoglenoid cyst," a condition that compresses a nerve in the shoulder causing a loss of strength. Tampa Bay Online says the cyst could be the result of a torn labrum in the shoulder.

So - both sides agree that surgery is required but the team is implying that the injury isn't hockey-related, which would make it Veilleux's problem.

Walsh told Tampa Bay Online that Veilleux was cleared in his postseason physical exam in Minnesota at the end of last season and again before training camp in Tampa this season, but at his end-of-the-season physical the team's doctors discovered the problem. He says the Lightning have no evidence to prove that the player in question injured himself away from the rink and shouldn't be hanging him out to dry.

"In all my years in this business, I have never seen an NHL team with such total lack of respect for the health and well being of one of their own. Here is a player with integrity, honour and a strong work ethic which is being completely abandoned by the team he played for this year."

According to Walsh, the Lightning say they can't pinpoint an exact moment on the ice, so it must be a non-hockey injury. He says the team's interim GM, Tom Kurvers, is suggesting that Veilleux injured his shoulder playing ping-pong at one of the Lightning's facilities. The 28-year-old Veilleux is a free agent come July 1st, so getting this sorted out in a timely fashion is key if he hopes to find another place to play for next season.

A lot of people are blowing up Allan Walsh's Twitter account with some fairly interesting points - the most common (it seems) though, is the question of 'would Kurvers pull this if it was Lecavalier, St. Louis or Stamkos needing surgery?'

My guess is NO. Is the fact that Veilleux isn't a superstar, nevermind a guy they're clearly not re-signing, playing into this decision?

To me, this is a despicable situation and one that could do a lot to hurt the team's reputation around the league. Tampa Bay's front office has been a bit of a joke in the past year or two as it is, with squabbling owners and the like often deflecting attention from the on-ice product (which hasn't been great).

Speaking of the on-ice product, we all know that free agency provides general managers a great opportunity to improve their clubs - do the Lightning really think this is a move that will draw players to the organization?

You stay classy, Tom Kurvers.

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