Hall of Famer Mark Messier Wins $6.2 Million National Hockey League Arbitral Award

July 30, 2012

Cleary Gottlieb won a victory for Mark Messier and the National Hockey League Players’ Association in an NHL grievance arbitration against the Vancouver Canucks, for whom Mr. Messier played between 1997 and 2000. Following a 3-day arbitration hearing that took place at the end of May and after receiving extensive submissions by the parties over several months, on July 30 an NHL arbitrator ordered the Canucks to pay to Mr. Messier $6.2 million in deferred compensation, consisting of the full damages sought plus more than $1 million in interest. Mr. Messier was seeking deferred compensation from the Canucks for a “phantom investment” that entitled him to a share of any increase in the fair market value of the Canucks between 1997 and 2007. The Canucks took the position that Mr. Messier was not entitled to any additional deferred compensation on the basis that there had been no appreciation in its value over the 10-year period due in large part to the accumulation of losses it suffered and that the grievance was time-barred under the 60-day limitations period set forth in the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. In a 40-page award, the arbitrator agreed with Mr. Messier on all issues.