As I’m sure you have all heard by now, the NHL’s decision to reject Ilya Kovalchuk’s 17-year contract with the New Jersey Devils was upheld by the arbitrator.
In short, it was determined that the structure of the deal clearly was an attempt to circumvent the current salary cap as defined by the CBA given that the contract would have paid Kovy $95 million over the first ten years while only saddling the Devils with a $6 million cap hit per season.
As for the decision itself, while I was surprised the arbitrator sided completely with the NHL, I can’t say I disagree with his decision. To me it’s pretty much clear that the two parties were trying to bend the rules via creative accounting and eventually you have to start enforcing the rules.
But wasn’t the same thing happening with the contracts signed between Marian Hossa and the Chicago Blackhawks…and for that matter Chris Pronger’s with the Flyers? There is certainly an argument that can be made to that point. But since this one assumed Kovalchuk would play to the age of 44 and that it was so egregiously front-loaded, clearly the NHL had to step in and put an end to the nonsense.
The way I see it is that the league was put on alert last summer with Hossa and Pronger’s deals, waited to see if the abuse remain in the “questionable” range, but were forced to act when Kovy’s contract went so far over the line of acceptability.
What will be the outcome of Kovy's contract problem?
Total Voters: 216
But what happens now?
Well, as for Kovalchuk and his agent, his Grossman, they could reconvene at the bargaining table with the Devils and re-hash a deal. Another option is that Ilya could act upon his second free agency period this summer and take a second look at what the Los Angeles Kings have to offer…or he could follow the handful of other Russian players and make his way over to the KHL.
Of course, Walmart is hiring too.
As for the rest of the league, the gauntlet has been thrown down and teams now know Bettman is going to enforce the rules. Sure, some may say he should have done so last year…that it matters not if you go one inch out of bounds or one mile. But here is where they decided to finally say, “enough is enough”… for better or worse.
For us, it simply means the Kovalchuk contract controversy continues…at least for a little while longer.
But hey, it’s August. What else do we have to ramble on about?