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Apr 11, 2014

Lightning Rumor: Terminated contract of Riku Helenius being fought by NHLPA

By on 4:45 AM

In what will be a very complicated grievance process, the NHLPA will attempt to fight the contract termination of goaltender Riku Helenius. The Lighning minor league goalie had his contract terminated following a muddled refusal of a demotion from the AHL to the ECHL.

Helenius had a successful stint in the Swedish Elite League prior to signing with the Lightning. He appeared in only one game for the Lightning back in the 2008-2009 season. It was a relief appearance lasting a mere seven minutes. His career and the mess that it has turned into is chronicled at

Helenius has spent the majority of his career in the American Hockey league. He had been paying there under a $650,000 one way contract. After not playing very well over a significant period of time the Lightning opted to demote him to the Florida Everglades of the ECHL. Helenius declined the demotion at first. Since he was not on an entry level deal he had the right to decline the transfer to the ECHL under the terms of the CBA.

Here is where the problem comes in. Helenius refused to report to the ECHL as he had a right to do. He them changed his mind and played four games for the Everglades and then once again refused the demotion.  At that point the Lightning terminated his contract claiming that the player abandoned his club thus breaching his contract.

The NHLPA has filed a grievance claiming that the player had the right to refuse the demotion. This grievance is likely headed to an arbitrator. The primary point of contention in this case is that the player did report and then balk. That will be the point that the Lightning will site before the arbitrator and it will be very difficult for the NHLPA to counter that and be successful.


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