In the last week or so, I've probably read Section 13.9 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement a good 20 times. It's not even that long of a section --- it takes up about half a page -- but it explains a complicated situation.
Of course, as anybody who's read the site over the last week or two understand, this is all about Michael Leighton's conditioning loan with the Phantoms. As it stands now, he's on long-term injured reserve with the Flyers after a six-day conditioning loan with the AHL club. The Flyers have extended that loan for two games, meaning he'll play for the Phantoms for the next two games (this Friday and Saturday), as allowed by Section 13.9.
That's all detailed in this section. We've broken it up into paragraphs to make it easier to read.
13.9 Bona Fide Long-Term Injury/Illness Exception Conditioning Loan. A Player who is on the Bona Fide Long-Term Injury/Illness Exception as set forth in Article 50 may, with his consent, during the term of such Bona Fide Long-Term Injury/Illness Exception (but in no event during the first fourteen (14) calendar days and six (6) NHL Games), be Loaned on a Conditioning Loan (the "Bona Fide Long-Term Injury/Illness Exception Conditioning Loan") for a period not to exceed up to the longer of six (6) days and three (3) games, solely for the purpose of determining whether the Player is fit to play.
The Flyers determined he was unfit to play, and as a result...
If the Club determines that it needs more time to assess the Player's fitness to play, the Club may file a written request by facsimile with the Commissioner's Office, with a copy to the NHLPA, in accordance with Exhibit 3 hereof, to extend the Loan for an additional two (2) games. The Commissioner, upon good cause, may approve the onetime extension. The Commissioner's approval shall not be unreasonably withheld. A Player on a Bona Fide Long-Term Injury/Illness Exception Conditioning Loan will continue to be listed on Injured Reserve and will not count against the Club's 23-man roster limit.
So that's where we stand now. Leighton is with the Phantoms until Sunday. It's a one-time extension, so he must leave the Phantoms following those two games, and he cannot go on another conditioning loan with the Phantoms during the course of this current LTIR stint. For now, though, while he's with the Phantoms, he doesn't count against the Flyers roster or cap thanks to the LTIR exception.
That's where things get confusing though. Several of the beat writers have suggested, as has Paul Holmgren, that the Flyers can keep Leighton on LTIR even after Saturday, when the two-game extension is over. I read this next sentence of Section 13.9 and see a different result.
The Club's Bona Fide Long-Term Injury/Illness Exception will continue until the Conditioning Loan ends, and his Paragraph 1 NHL Salary and Bonuses will continue to count against the Club's Upper Limit and the Players' Share during such time.
To me, that reads as "once the conditioning loan ends (Saturday), the LTIR exception ends," meaning that on Sunday, Leighton must come off of LTIR. I might be wrong, but that's why I want to open it up to discussion. I'm not a legal scholar, but I'm also not ready to believe what Holmgren or the Flyers organization has to say about these things, considering they don't even know how much salary cap space they have right now.
So, wannabe legal scholars (and, probably, a few actual legal scholars), how do you understand what Section 13.9 is trying to say?