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Robson Hall Teams Undefeated at 2017 NHL Moot

Robson Hall teams won oral hearings, received high praise from competitors and arbitrators alike

December 1, 2017 — 
Robson Hall teams competing at the Hockey Arbitration Competition: (left to right) Mark Alward, Vienna Luong, Carter Liebzeit, and Christian Pierce. Photo by Alana Robert

Robson Hall teams competing at the Hockey Arbitration Competition: (left to right) Mark Alward, Vienna Luong, Carter Liebzeit, and Christian Pierce. Photo by Alana Robert

On November 12th to 13th, two teams representing Robson Hall competed in the “2017 Hockey Arbitration Competition of Canada” in Toronto. Mark Alward and Vienna Luong formed one team, and Carter Liebzeit and Christian Pierce comprised the other team.  These four students from Robson Hall were selected after a competitive and rigorous internal process.  Each Robson Hall team went undefeated in the round robin stage of the competition, winning all three oral hearings.  Our teams were excellent ambassadors of Robson Hall, receiving high praise from competitors and arbitrators alike for being collegial and respectful, in addition to superbly advocating their positions.  Unfortunately, despite being invictus, neither team advanced to the playoff rounds due to the tie-breaking rules for the competition.

The competition simulated the salary arbitration procedure found in the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and the NHLPA, which is a specialized form of the interest arbitration process used in labour law.  Salary arbitration provides leverage to “Restricted Free Agents” (RFAs) in situations where they would otherwise have little bargaining power. The competition organizers chose three actual NHL RFAs upon whom to base salary arbitrations: Micheal Ferland; Alex Galchenyuk; and Calvin de Haan.  The teams were tasked with arguing that the player’s contract should be either above or below (depending on the assigned position) the pre-determined salary midpoint set by the organizers using salary and performance data from other comparable players. Our teams were required to produce a series of written briefs advocating their positions.

These Robson Hall students found the competition an invaluable experience.  The judges gave them great advice about the advocacy techniques lawyers use, and insider information about the hockey arbitration process.  Our four competitors also enjoyed networking with fellow law students interested in sports law and with prominent individuals involved in professional hockey. The arbitrators included sports lawyers, certified NHL player agents, and others associated with the league, including player agent Rand Simon, who represented P. K. Subban at his salary arbitration hearing. After the competition, the students attended the PrimeTime Sports Management conference, and got to hear Brian Burke, President of Hockey Operations with the Calgary Flames, speak along with various other prominent individuals associated with the sports management and sports media industries. 

The competitors are most thankful to several mentoring Winnipeg lawyers who assisted them with their oral arguments: Jeff Kowall, a Lawyer at TDS; Grant Stefanson, a Partner at MLT Aikins; and Joe Caligiuri an Articling Student at Tapper Cuddy.

Congratulations Carter, Christian, Mark, Vienna, on representing Robson Hall so well at this competition!

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