A few days ago, defenseman Andrej Sekera filed with the league to take the Buffalo Sabres to salary arbitration. Arbitration is some process that involves some sort of hearing, and then the league will spit out his new salary, right?
Well, it's not that simple. Let's explain, shall we? And try not to fall asleep.
First of all, players need to meet league qualifications to file for salary arbitration, which involve both at what age their first contract was signed and how many years they've played in the league. The player in question must file with the league by July 5, but the hearing won't take place until later in July or even possibly early August. A team can also elect to take a player to arbitration, but this is a much more rare occurrence.
At the hearing, first the player and then the team will offer what they think is a fair salary, and each has ninety minutes to argue why their side is right, with time for rebuttals. This hearing is just like any regular court hearing - evidence can be brought in and witnesses can testify either for or against the client and can then be cross-examined.
Once the hearing ends, both parties will be notified within 48 hours of the result, which is binding (everyone signs contracts beforehand saying they'll agree to whatever the judge says is fair.) However, if the player salary awarded is more than $1,042,173 per year, the club then has 48 hours to walk away. You may remember this outcome from the Great Tim Kennedy Debacle of 2010.
And that's pretty much it in a nutshell. If you're really into legalese and want to read all 13 pages that describe the arbitration process in stunningly boring detail, you can download the current NHL collective bargaining agreement at this page.
So, now the team will wait until the date for Sekera's hearing is announced, and then we'll know the results within 48 hours. The team is able to continue to negotiate with the player while waiting for the arbitration date to be set, so there's a good chance this process won't meet its ultimate conclusion.
What do you think Sekera is worth? Any wild guesses on how much he'd get if he went to arbitration?