Kovalchuk contract controversy continues

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?

  • Kovy and NJ will work something out (56%, 121 Votes)
  • Kovy will play for another NHL team (8%, 17 Votes)
  • Kovy is heading to the KHL (13%, 29 Votes)
  • He becomes a greeter at Walmart (23%, 49 Votes)

Total Voters: 216

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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?

94 comments Add your comment

R. Stroz

August 10th, 2010
12:17 pm

World Be Free

August 10th, 2010
12:22 pm

Stroz was just waiting on the new blog.

Diego from Lilburn

August 10th, 2010
12:26 pm

Maybe he will accept something more realistic this time and quit trying to be “First!” to get a ridiculously long contract to stay with one team the rest of his career.

I swear, I never knew his ego was so huge. It’s “mind-bottling”.

World Be Free

August 10th, 2010
12:27 pm

Not sure why the “contract review” didn’t start with the Mule and Zetterberg’s deals, then Pronger and Hossa’s deals. Bettman finally had enough, especially when Lou decided to get involved. Pretty good chance Lou will not be on management’s side for the next CBA negotiations with the “union”.

Smoothie

August 10th, 2010
12:33 pm

If the NHL goes forward with their investigations of Savard’s, Pronger’s and Luongo’s contract extensions, then they need to go ahead and force Chicago, Tampa and Detroit to “fix” the contracts of Hossa, Lecavalier and Zetts & Franzen before the season begins. Each of those 4 contracts, which began in 2009, are all as bad as the Luongo or Pronger deals.

Either make each team shorten the deals with less money so the player can remain on those respective teams for a cap hit that fits within the cap or make each of them take the full cap hit after the player retires if that player retires before the end of the deal. You might as well fix the problem before the next round of CBA negotiations since you drew your line in the sand.

Look at the percentage of compensation for each of these players’ deals when you subtract out the “tail” for each:

Kovy – 97%
Pronger – 96.9%
Luongo – 94.4%
Hossa – 94%
Zetts – 92.7%
Vinny – 92.4%
Savard – 90.9%
Franzen – 90.8%

You can’t nullify Kovy’s and allow the others to stand as is. I’m not saying the contracts must be voided, but the NHL must force the deals to be restructured to ensure some level of reasonableness (go ahead and use this ruling to define what is reasonable — 20% of the contract must be in the last 3 or 4 years for instance) going forward. That way they can be allowed to waive players who don’t fit under their cap after the contracts have been reconfigured. The allow the have-nots decide if they want to pluck a player off the waiver wire or sign them via FA after the waiving team has been granted an exception to the cap to allow them to waive the player without incurring the cap hit. Losing a player or multiple players to free agency should be penalty enough for keeping these over-priced “superstars”.

Thomas Magnum

August 10th, 2010
12:36 pm

I can’t wait to see what happens with all of this. Will there be fines or penalties handed out by the league now? I have read a couple of articles saying that its entirely the NHL’s right to do so.

R. Stroz

August 10th, 2010
12:43 pm

I voted for greeter at Walmart. Maybe Grossman can join him at Christmas ringing a bell in front of the Salvation Army kettle.

Then again, probably not, the Salvation Army is a first class organization. They wouldn’t accept scum like Grossman.

G

August 10th, 2010
12:45 pm

Yeah I agree the other contracts should be investigated too, but Bettman seems to like playing favorites with teams so I doubt they will be.

And a 15 year contract is fine but not a 17? Then Ilya should just go get a 15 year contract!!

Cornbread

August 10th, 2010
12:46 pm

K17: : “Instant Karma” And we all shine on…

Monkey

August 10th, 2010
12:46 pm

I went with Wal Mart. That would be nice. But, I’m sure Jersey will work something out.

The Smooth Spark

August 10th, 2010
12:56 pm

The 15 year DiPietro deal is an equal amt each year deal and there was less intent to circumvent the cap. But without a max # of years clause, what’s to prevent NJ from giving Kovy a $90 M deal over 90 years?

Sara

August 10th, 2010
12:57 pm

What overpriced superstars? Zetterberg’s max contract year is less than $8M in his prime. Franzen never goes above $5.25M. Both of those contracts run out to the age of 40, which isn’t unreasonable, and Zetterberg only has 2 low end-years at $1M. Franzen has 3 low end years at $2M, $1M, and $1M but is $1M really that low for a 39-40 year old who made $5M-ish in his prime?

Compare that to the 17 year Kovy contract that would have maxed out at $11.5M a year and dropped down to barely more than half a million for the final five years. Plus there’s a difference of over $5M between the max annual salary in the contract and the cap hit. With Zetterberg, his cap hit is $1.667M less than his max annual salary. With Franzen, his cap hit is $1.295M less than his max annual salary.

Here’s the one thing I can’t fathom. How in the heck does the arbitrator NOT find that the Devils and Kamp Kovy intentionally tried to circumvent the cap? I mean what, is he assuming Grossman and Lou went out to the desert for a little peyote and came up with some whacked out contract structure because it was cool, man, totally rad and different and when they sobered up went hey, this groovy thing we came up with just happens to have a palatable cap hit – whoa! ?

Jamie Fehr

August 10th, 2010
1:37 pm

I like that your at least putting up new blogs, this site used to be the best for thrashers stuff, your still doing your part, you should get vivlamore to get it in gear, keep it up bud

Alan R.

August 10th, 2010
1:44 pm

but Bettman seems to like playing favorites with teams so I doubt they will be.

No, Bettman was probably looking for something that was egregiously wrong. Kovalchuk’s contract fit that bill. He drew the line in the sand, and he won.

While this leaves the door open for other nullifications to occur, chances are they will not. Though it would be hilarious to see Hossa’s contract nullified the same year he wins the cup.

Darren

August 10th, 2010
1:45 pm

Sara,

I think the NHLPA’s best argument was really that a line hadn’t been established and that the other contracts that were also obviously cap circumvention (Hossa, Pronger) and even the ones that were borderline (Franzen, Zetterberg) went through without an investigation.

Still, this mess had to be stopped sometime. Of course, it’s the cash-strapped franchises that actually lose in all this, because now they can’t try to sign their franchise players to deals like this.

There’s no reason this loophole couldn’t have been fixed in the last CBA, but c’est la vie with the NHL.

glovesave29

August 10th, 2010
1:48 pm

Lou has been quoted as saying that this deal was not of his doing. The ownership stepped in and made this happen. I still feel that Lou is a big Bettman supporter.

Where is gets REALLY obvious (other than the serious drop off in $$$) is that after the first 10 years, the contract changes from a no-movement to a no-trade contract. So the Devils can put him in the minors or on waivers in those final years so that his numbers do not count against the cap.

All this from a franchise that was 20th in the league in attendance, selling 88.1% of the home tickets for a relatively new area and a VERY competitive team. They actually draw much better on the road. A team that is a distant 3rd in popularity in the NY area, and has their championship parade in the arena parking lot.

rob

August 10th, 2010
1:51 pm

I agree, Stroz, Walmart is where he belongs……but I actually hope his prima dona self goes KHL. He can help implode things over there. 1 man can’t demand so much as a 1 dementional player. How do you tell the other players who bust a$$ all around they aren’t worth anything?? The “superstar” mentality may work in an organization with deep pockets, but not in a smaller minded ownership (like the octotards), and will only further the gap between the elite teams and those just hanging on IMO. I agree the other contracts were BS and should have been revoked, but since they weren’t they shouldnt be revisited.
As for hockey being a 2nd rate league, it will always be a more fringe sport for many reasons. Doesn’t mean it isn’t successful…just much maligned and misunderstood :)

World Be Free

August 10th, 2010
1:52 pm

Sara-my beliefs on the matter are simple-pay the players when they play and don’t expect them to be playing at 40, since very few do. Most people are using the Mule/Zetter contracts as the starting points for these types of deals. Forget going after the old contracts bcuase we don’t need the negative publicity. Let it go and move forward.

Smoothie

August 10th, 2010
1:56 pm

Sara – probably shouldn’t have lumped Zetts and Franzen into the “overpaid superstar” category…apologies, but I thought you were a Thrashers’ fan, why so sensitive about the Red Wings? ;-)

That wasn’t my point really. The bigger point is why have a salary cap or a CBA if GM’s are allowed to get around it simply with creative accounting, which is an insult to accounting because there is nothing about these contracts that is consistent, comparable and reasonable when juxtaposed with the contracts of 98% of players in the league.

The first problem is special treatment for the best players in the league. It’s okay to give Zetterberg or Kovalchuk a retirement contract, even at the expense of other good players who are forced to find work somewhere else when perhaps they would have preferred staying in the city where they’ve played for the last several years? Sure, they can move on and find good money somewhere else, but they’ll never get the luxury of a retirement contract that gives them 90% of their pay in the first 5 years of a 7 or 8 year deal.

Before too long, a “creative” GM will decide to give Mikael Samuelsson a 12 year deal worth $25 M that pays $22 M in the first 9 years just so they (DET) can keep him as well. If every GM working for a deep-pocketed owner starts doing it, then the have-nots become even greater have-nots thus defeating the main purpose of a salary cap: competitive balance.

So the first problem bleeds into the second, more important issue of competitive balance. If the Atlanta Thrashers have even less of a chance to keep their drafted talent simply because other good teams will find a way to “make it work” w/r/t a UFA contract, how are the lower 10-12 teams on the financial spectrum supposed to compete on a regular basis? They can’t.

They can hope to draft wisely, develop their talent and make a serious run at a title before losing those players to a perennial contender or they can adopt Nashville’s blue-print and be perennial also-rans every year to make the extra $4-5 M that comes with a couple of home playoff games. Yeah, what Nashville does with less is impressive, but is it really helping the league find competitive balance? Only if the “rich” don’t get too rich and these contracts are the first step towards more power and imbalance.

So assuming that is the goal of any major sports league, then the governing bodies must ensure that these loopholes don’t exist. And if someone figures out a loophole, then it must be closed. If that isn’t a primary goal, then contract 8 teams already and let the richest of the rich have their fun paying players ridiculous sums of money with guaranteed contracts to play a game that can end your career in the blink of an eye and one random blindside hit by the likes of a low-rent antagonist like Matt Cooke. That doesn’t seem like a good economic risk to take either does it?

Smoothie

August 10th, 2010
1:58 pm

Ooops, busted by the blog purgatory monster!! Oh Trixie sweetie, would you mind? I’ll leave an extra big tip on the blog piano bar on the way out…no worries! :-)

Smoothie

August 10th, 2010
2:03 pm

The other factor which may make it even more likely that the league intervenes and nullifies the contracts of Pronger, Savard and Luongo — and perhaps even Hossa — is the fact that all three teams are over the cap limit and are basically thumbing their noses at the league by doing these deals when they didn’t have the flexibility to begin with. As for Chicago, they’ve already paid the piper losing half their team so I think I’d be okay if they let sleeping dogs lie w/r/t CHI, DET and TBL.

However, look at all the talent Detroit has managed to hang onto thanks to the 2 retirement deals they gave to Zetts & the Mule. Is that really fair within the competitve landscape of a salary capped league?

David R

August 10th, 2010
2:05 pm

Don’t really have much to say about this. We all know that there is going to be a change in the contract stuff very soon. Will it be a percentage or length of or a mix of both is really the question. Past that it’s kovy and he thrives on being in the spotlight. So let’s turn out the lights and move on.

Alan R.

August 10th, 2010
2:09 pm

Most people are using the Mule/Zetter contracts as the starting points for these types of deals.

Doesn’t make “most people” right. Most people also pointed to DiPietero’s contract, and that doesn’t make them right, either. I’ll go so far as to say people point to Mule’s and Zett’s contracts because they’re Red Wings.

I know I’m not far from the truth.

Thrashy Thrashy

August 10th, 2010
2:18 pm

I’d like to see the NHL overturn a bunch of these contracts. Then, after smoking some of that peyote Sara mentioned, ASG will order Dudley to swoop in and sign Zetterberg, Hossa, and Lecavalier.

We’ll be skating the Cup in no time. Yippee!

kracker

August 10th, 2010
2:20 pm

Yeah, I didn’t get that either, Sara. It appears the league wished the ruling to allow for it (NHL) to levy no direct sanctions against Grossman or the Devils. You just KNOW Grossman would have sued in a heartbeat if he was found to be deliberately circumventing the CBA and thus ineligible ro represent players. Similarily, the league doesn’t want to strip NJD of draft choices or levy other meaningful penalties. Those are headaches Betteman doesn’t want or need. Plus, it would be sure to antagonize the players union much more than simply voiding a bad contract.

The point has been made. Let the Devils restructure the deal into a more palpable contract and then the league should clarify the rules up in the next CBA.

Smoothie

August 10th, 2010
2:30 pm

You Red Wings fans are really touchy. I was pointing out all BS contracts including Lecavalier’s. The only reason I didn’t include DiPietro is because his cap hit is the same every year…it’s not really the same deal for comparison purposes. Like it or not, the DET contracts, while not as bad, are still attempts to circumvent the cap.

Thrashfan01

August 10th, 2010
2:32 pm

Since TSN.ca is reporting the NHL is going to re-open the investigation into the Luongo contract the question becomes what can the league do when a player has actually played under the contract? It is one thing to void a contract but to do it retroactively opens a real mess.

Are we talking punative cap hits/ Loss of draft choices? Sanctions against the GMs who made these deals? Will the agents involved be effected?

We have one line in the sand but what is the line the league wants to see drawn?

Alan R.

August 10th, 2010
2:48 pm

I was really hoping I could have trolled you harder, Smoothie. You didn’t chomp down on the bait like I thought you would have. ;)

Smoothie

August 10th, 2010
2:52 pm

You’re not a troll Alan! Just a hyper-sensitive Red Wings fan! ;-)

I understand the league is trying to clamp down on these contracts by drawing the proverbial line in the sand, but they look a bit foolish for not starting sooner. Hopefully, if they go back and re-visit any contracts, it will only be the ones that haven’t actually already started. I can live with the CHI and DET deals as CHI has lost half their team and DET is older than dirt. Their window will be closing sooner than they think! ;-)

Alan R.

August 10th, 2010
3:01 pm

Even us non-trolls have our days where we just want to stir the pot, so to speak. Really, honestly, I was hoping there would have been more bites (and a few chomps). I’m at work, though, so I don’t have the patience to just let the lure sit out there all day. ;)

I am a bit sensitive of my Wings, but I disagree that the contracts come nearly as close as the others (Pronger, Hossa, etc) to cap circumvention.

Nate

August 10th, 2010
3:05 pm

The TSN.ca article also stated that the league was currently investigating the other questionable contracts before he made his ruling. Looks like they realized the errors of their ways in approving contracts and are backtracking. Seems illegal to me. Maybe they just penalize those teams with fines and/or loss of draftpicks without actually voiding the contracts. It would make for nightmare scenarios for GMs trying to fit all of their players under the cap with players already on payroll. If that makes sense?…

Smoothie

August 10th, 2010
3:15 pm

C’mon Alan, they may not be as bad, but it was obvious circumvention so they could keep both players. Take away the “tails” on each deal and the cap hits are $7.4 M and $4.94 M for Zetts & Mule respectively. That’s an effective savings of $3.12 M for the Wings this year. If it wasn’t for that, they wouldn’t have been able to take back Hudler and sign Modano and Salei, not that those are good things (see “older than dirt” comment). But at least DET has made a somewhat better attempt to manage their money. I certainly give them credit for keeping all their salaries below $7.5 M.

Joe Friday

August 10th, 2010
3:20 pm

See, this is why the ruling by the arbitrator was ludicrous. Every one of you is right, there’s so many different ramifications now, it’s a Pandora’s box that should not have been opened.

I agree that Kovy’s contract was an attempt to circumvent the Cap. BUT, precedent had already been set with all the contracts you guys are mentioning. That’s what a judge, or arbitrator has to do, look at precedent and rule accordingly. This joker went AGAINST precedent which now opens up this huge pandora’s box, where do they go from here. To not rule against Luongo’s, Hossa’s, the Dead Things, et al is not fair, they have to void them all now.

But how do you void contracts that guys have already played under and that GMs have based future actions and signings on to build their club?

If it was only idiotic, it would be funny, but the ruling was ludicrous and this is going to be big stinky mess that is going to cause another lockout.

All the arbitrator had to do was to rule based on precedent and then the NHL would have had to take up this issue in the next CBA and set a rule that these types of contracts are illegal. You can’t sit there and Hossa, legal, Luongo, legal, Dead Things, legal when they all clearly were structured to circumvent the cap, and then after the precedent is set say Kovy, illegal.

Ludicrous (not Ludicris)

R. Stroz

August 10th, 2010
3:27 pm

Take away the “tails”

Devils have tails. Hopefully, Grossman realizes his tail was clipped. If Hossa’s contract is voided, Ritch Winter will have his tail clipped too.

Those are a pair of agents deserving of a good neutering.

rockdr99

August 10th, 2010
3:27 pm

Great job, Bill — Maybe Mark Bradley could join Kovy and Jay Grossman at the Walmart greeting station — Could someone please get that ridiculous Bradley column off the AJC Thrashers website — How much longer do we have to scroll past that drivel — Oh, wait a minute, that is probably Bradley’s work product for the summer —-

glovesave29

August 10th, 2010
3:45 pm

JF – but if something in inherently wrong, you are just supposed to ignore it and pretend it does not exist or hope that it goes away? I TOTALLY agree with you about going back after contracts that have already been approved and players have played a season under. But laying down the law for all future contracts…I have no problem with that at all.

Think about it…where would we be if everyone always answered “but that’s the way it’s always been done”.

Smoothie

August 10th, 2010
3:51 pm

“it’s a Pandora’s box that should not have been opened.”

Just like glovesave said above, who’s to say that Pandora’s box hadn’t already been opened when the first of these “silly” deals with tails was drawn up, signed and then approved. The NHL only has themselves to blame so if they are going to draw the line as deep as possible in the arbitrary sand, then they better do it for any contract for which the clock has not started ticking. Therefore, tough (bleep) on the Hossa, Franzen, Briere, Kipper, Zetterberg etc deals. Luongo, Pronger and Savard will be fair game going forward I think. Not that it’s perfect, but I think you gotta send a stronger message than just making NJ / Kovy re-work the deal for 14 or 15 years at $102.

SomaAtl95

August 10th, 2010
3:57 pm

So yes, Pandoras Box has now been opened. Possible lock out in the near future (2012). Since the league can’t do much about a contract already in force why not pick a way to punish all teams and agents that try to do these insane crap with locking a player long term and skating “Kovy Style” figure 8’s around the CBA? Yanking a draft pick (or two) or dropping their cap would keep crap like this from happening again.
Kovy stated that he wanted to win and it wasn’t about the money. If that were the case (and it were not about the money) don’t you guys think a new contract would have already been announced with the Devils, TODAY?
I can not think of any 1 single player in all of Atlanta Sports that lifted our fair city to a complete (or even divisional) championship. Some would say Glavine in 95 but it took Glavine and Justice to win the clinching game. I’d take our Black and Blue Birds now over Thrash teams of the past few years. Just like the Falcons under coach Smith and Matt Ryan, our new Thrashers squad and Coaches will be flying in under the radar and hopefully we get to play some late spring hockey in 2011. Thats my hope anyways.

Alan R.

August 10th, 2010
3:58 pm

See, this is why the ruling by the arbitrator was ludicrous.

You’re still wrong. The contract was designed to circumvent the cap. The NHL called double-dare, the NHLPA took the physical challenge. The NHLPA lost.

The NHLPA lost so badly, the arbitrator went so far as to say the NHL could, under the CBA, re-open the previously signed contracts for investigation. So it is written, so it shall be.

Mikey

August 10th, 2010
4:14 pm

The bigger question is, what is Rawhide going to do now that the arbitrator in payroll upheld Cox Enterprises voiding of your 17 year $101 contract with the AJC?

glovesave29

August 10th, 2010
4:18 pm

Alan – but just because they said they could, it does not mean that they should. The league has proved their point. If they want to go after existing contracts, that is risky ground. Maybe not on a legal basis, but if the league wants to show some good faith towards the 2012 CBA, they’d be wise to walk away from this victory and be happy.

Don’t think the Pronger deal can be lumped in with these other contracts. He signed it after age 35, so they Flyers will get the full cap hit even if he retires before the end of it.

Joe Friday

August 10th, 2010
4:22 pm

“You’re still wrong. . . .The NHLPA lost so badly, the arbitrator went so far as to say the NHL could, under the CBA, re-open the previously signed contracts for investigation.”

That’s precisely my point and why the decision is ludicrous. The NHL can’t say the previous signed contracts were fine (which they did, they allowed them) and then say this one isn’t. It’s one way or the other, now it’s a Pandora’s Box, which is simply ludicrous, but not suprising for this red headed step child of a league . . . whether it be shots to the head, Hull’s skate in the crease, taking the games to Versus over ESPN, or the Atlanta Spirit Squad, the overall mismanagement of this league is simply laughable . . .

Joe Friday

August 10th, 2010
4:24 pm

“they’d be wise to walk away from this victory and be happy.”

too late, the box is open and Bettman and his fairies are flying all around . . . you can’t arbitrarily say Kovy’s is bad and the others that quite clearly also are built to circumvent the cap are fine . . . or you could, which would be completely ludicrous . . . they’re either all bad, or they’re all fine, not pick one here, choose one there, Devils bad, Dead Things good . . .

Rawhide

August 10th, 2010
4:26 pm

Mikey – I’m keeping my options open. My agent, Jane Gropeman, is still discussing reconstructing the contract with AJC.com Sports. But I have also heard a news source in Los Angeles could still be intereted. Also, the KHL has extended to me the option of blogging in Russia.

I thought this was all wrapped up three weeks ago…but last night’s decision opens it all up again.

I have also come to learn that Cox Enterprises is now opening investigations on a handfull of other AJC.com sports bloggers. This whole thing could get nasty.

Alan R.

August 10th, 2010
4:27 pm

Glovesave – As I said to Stroz earlier today, I completely agree. Just because those other deals suck, doesn’t mean the league should go back and void them.

Same goes to you, Sergeant Joe Friday (of the radio and television series Dragnet), except I don’t find the decision ludicrous. The decision is good, insomuch as the Kovalchuk contract being voided. Whether the league pushes its luck will determine whether or not there is too much of a good thing.

kracker

August 10th, 2010
4:31 pm

All this just serves to further prove that labor unions are ultimately a bad thing. We see how eventually all of the owner/player relationships in professional sports get too easily strained. Whether it’s ball players, airline machinists or city workers eventually somebody gets their nose out of joint and wham! “I ain’t workin’ no more!” Or playin’ no more, as the case may be. Or it’s “You’re locked out!”

Whaaaanh!!! Throw in devious agents (or labor negitiators) and it’s plain to see why the costs for sports, airline tickets, city services and a host of other services and products are way either over priced or now they are made overseas.

SomaAtl95

August 10th, 2010
4:41 pm

Rawhide – So they’re investigating other blog writers too? Ouch. Could get really bad when Cox goes deep down to try and fix past mistakes. The last thing any good AJC blog writer would want to see are threats by angry Cox. It would get really nasty, and there is a complete other area of the internet dealing with that.
You guys can feel free to let me know when I’m pushing the limit with this. I’m starting to get tired of it myself but its just too good an opportunity to not pass it up. Wordplay can be fun.

glovesave29

August 10th, 2010
4:43 pm

Oh don’t get me started Kracker…!

I still want to know why pro athletes even HAVE a union. Unions negotiate en masse. Pro athletes negotiate their individual contracts. They are independant contractors. Union be damned.

Red Light

August 10th, 2010
4:48 pm

What’s wrong with Daly and Bettman, et al sitting in the same room with representatives from teams and the NHLPA, let each discuss the matters of greatest concern with the CBA and other league items while the season is not in session, and negotiate what’s best for the league? Because those things just don’t happen in the sports world right?

When the CBA was ratified by all parties, they should live by it until it expires or it’s amended. The NHLPA extended the current CBA by an additional year through 2011-12 on June 22, and then said, “It is apparent through the operation of the CBA that there are a number of issues that require serious examination,” according to the statement.

This arbitration, and future problems forthcoming with the other contracts mentioned above, means the parties better begin working on a new CBA now or another work stoppage could occur once this one is over. No one saw this coming when the cap went up by an average of $4 million per year since the conclusion of the 2006 season? Management is its own worst enemy by agreeing to these contracts in the first place. No one put a gun to anyone’s head for them to agree to a 10-, 12-, 15- or 17-year-deal.

Duncan Ketih’s contract is a 12-year deal that pays him as follows…8/8/8/7.66/7.6/7.5/6/5/4.5/3.5/2.65/2.1 Is that not cap circumvention? Anyone mention that one?

The easiest way around this entire mess is to take away the cost averaging of the contract and make the teams count every dollar spent on the contract during the current season. Then, there would be no reason to attempt to circumvent the system except on an annual basis rather than during the entire life of the contract.

puckedup

August 10th, 2010
4:58 pm

Doubt this blog creates a record number of posts. But it sure as heck has created a record for number of words per post. Geez, thought I was reading short stories here for a few secs, no minutes, no hours.

SomaAtl95

August 10th, 2010
5:08 pm

Dude, thats puckedup!

Hockey Biltong

August 10th, 2010
5:10 pm

The NHL can’t have it both ways.They drew a line in the sand and now must define it. Without definition, there will be hell to pay from all parties trying to worm their way around the cap.

Hockey Biltong

August 10th, 2010
5:13 pm

You want short stories, try reading Roald Dahl. “Over to you” or Kiss Kiss”, come to mind…..just my 2 cents.

World Be Free

August 10th, 2010
5:18 pm

I agree with others that the arbitrator was wrong here. So based on this, let the other contracts go and move forward. There is NO benefit to reopening the other deals and reworking them. The NHL should be happy with one victory and don’t go any further. There is no benefit and there will a price to pay for reopening and reworking all these deals. Like I said earlier, let it go and move forward.

The league needs to measure what we might gain versus what we might lose. The NHL has NOTHING, NOTHING to gain by reowrking these deals. a number of owners will be pissed and the union will be furious, as we come up on a new collective bargaining agreement.

Darren

August 10th, 2010
5:23 pm

I think there’s a huge difference between being paid $2.1 million the last year of your contract, and six consecutive years of being paid $550,000 not long after being paid $11.5 million per season.

Unless you go with Red Light’s suggestion, how do you define, in writing precisely what is considered cap circumvention?

It seems like the argument is basically “we know it when we see it”, although they screwed the pooch with letting the Luongo, Pronger, et al deals go through. I think the fact that they were not denied when first signed will make it extremely difficult for the league to go back now and have an arbitrator retroactively rule those contracts null and void.

Larry Flynt

August 10th, 2010
5:26 pm

Carful opening up Pandoras box with Cox around!!!!

Not Blind

August 10th, 2010
6:22 pm

One option is to have a limit on the salary drop off in the later years. Some percentage of the highest year’s salary. As an example, the dollar amount of the lowest year’s paycheck must be 75% of the highest year’s paycheck. Or the dollar amount must be at least 75% of the previous year’s or said another way, the maximum decrease per year would be 25%.

Rhythmpenguin

August 10th, 2010
6:34 pm

I like your thinking Not Blind

Not Blind

August 10th, 2010
6:42 pm

The NHL could just say to the players, GM’s, etc. “If your proposed contract is outside these general parameters then we are going to challenge it”.

Jack

August 10th, 2010
6:48 pm

I don’t mean this in a negative light. Sounds like he is knee deep in the braves blog.

Red Light

August 10th, 2010
6:55 pm

Not Blind:

If Jim Slater was offered a 17-year deal that was “front-loaded” at $1.5 million per year for the first 10 years of the contract and he played for the league minimum for the final seven years, would the league try to void the contract?

That wouldn’t qualify under your 75 percent rule. In fact, no low-end player could ever make more than $734,000 one year and play for the league minimum the following year. I know it’s a drastic example, but those must be considered too.

Not Blind

August 10th, 2010
7:17 pm

Firstly, 75% is just a number. In the end it could be 60% or 80% or any number the NHL deems appropriate.

On your Slater scenario, the salary numbers could be juggled to make it work BUT why spend brain energy worrying about the lower priced contracts ? It’s the highend guys that get the CBA circumventing contracts.

HookyBob

August 10th, 2010
7:28 pm

The NHL had to challenge this contract. 20, 25, even 30 year contracts would be next. This mayv

HookyBob

August 10th, 2010
7:28 pm

The NHL had to challenge this contract. 20, 25, even 30 year contracts would be next. This mayv

Joe Friday

August 10th, 2010
7:38 pm

“The NHL has NOTHING, NOTHING to gain by reowrking these deals. a number of owners will be pissed and the union will be furious, as we come up on a new collective bargaining agreement.”

Yep. You follow any of the players on Twitter? the reactions from the players is ranging from incredulous to irate. This was the single most mind numbing thing I’ve ever seen a league do, and I saw the American league put in the designated hitter (WTF?)

Joe Friday

August 10th, 2010
7:39 pm

I mean not just Kovy, but they’re now investigating Savard’s, Hossa’s, etc. . . . mind numbingly idiotic . . .

Jack

August 10th, 2010
7:45 pm

If NHL did not force contracts then there would be no reason to have a salary cap.

Not Blind

August 10th, 2010
7:46 pm

The Duncan Keith contract mentioned above would NOT be outside the parameters of my proposal. It has resonable and progressive salary reductions each year.

Badger Bob

August 10th, 2010
7:48 pm

RL’s suggestion makes the most sense and will therefore be rejected out of hand by all parties (most of all the players, who suffer most with a “real” cap that is really enforced). We will end up with a contract evaluation formula more complex than the buy-out formula.

I’ll be the lone wolf who doesn’t see a problem with how things have gone down. When the CBA was written, with the first ever salary cap in the NHL, all future eventualities could not be predicted. I think they actually did a decent job anticipating many of the potential ways teams might skirt the cap (like side contracts for “no show” jobs). The lawyers identified the potential loopholes and started pressing the boundaries. In response, the next CBA will tighten or close the loopholes. It happens in every other kind of business or area of government regulation – it is how laws evolve. Why should the CBA be any different? (my solution is to get rid of all lawyers, but that’s not going to happen either…)

To say Kovy’s contract can’t be voided because those others were accepted is the ludicrous thing. Kovy’s went well beyond ALL of those in duration AND age at which it ends AND degree to which it tails off. If it wasn’t rejected, there’d truly be no end to cap evasion. It is a good day for hockey, period.

HookyBob

August 10th, 2010
8:12 pm

Whoa!!!…. posted twice without intending to. Let me finish my thoughts…

The NHL may very well have used the old “slippery slope” argument when presenting their case. I do think Kovy’s contract pushed past the questionable limits set by Hossa, Louango, Pronger in many areas. He’s the oldest when it is over, the term is the longest, it has the longest & lowest tail, greatest dif between max and avg years, etc.

To those who say Kovy’s contract had to be accepted because Hossa’s et al were,… I’d normally respond with,…”Try telling the highway patrolman that those other cars were speeding too.” However, in this case the NHL has implicitly validated those other contracts when it initialy accepted them. For this reason I don’t believe they will go back and review other “long tail” contracts.

To me this ruling doesn’t open a box of problems,…but rather further clarifies the upper boundaries on what is acceptable. We may not know the boundaries exactly but we do know that 44 is too old, and 6 years at $550 K is too long and low a tail. The algorithm is taking shape. Good thing too,..as I expect Mr Tiller is looking for some guidance on his contract.

World Be Free

August 10th, 2010
8:34 pm

Joe, yeah I expect the players to get pissed if this goes any farther. Frankly, I don’t blame the players if they did. If the league agreed to a contract then honor it. You can’t go back now.

All this because of Kovy, Gross-bag and Lou.

Joe Friday

August 10th, 2010
9:03 pm

“For this reason I don’t believe they will go back and review other “long tail” contracts.”

Uh, they already are, genius. And that’s why it’s “ludicrous” . . .

Joe Friday

August 10th, 2010
9:06 pm

“If the league agreed to a contract then honor it. You can’t go back now.”

Precisely. but that’s what they’re doing . . . the only thing more inane than the arbitrator not following precedent is the league now opening up the contracts that have already been signed and accepted . . . by them! “ludicrous” or outright lunacy, whatever, the NHL is making a farce (more of a farce?) of itself . . .

Badger Bob

August 10th, 2010
9:16 pm

JF, can you clarify your statement “the arbitrator not following precedent”. No contract has gone to an arbitrator to determine cap circumvention, so there’s no precedent there. No contract has gone to a guy’s 44th birthday, so no precedent there. No contract has been that long. No contract has tailed off so precipitously. No contract has had such a dollar or % spread between peak and tail years. This contract itself had no precedent, so clearly the arbitrator had to set a precedent.

I agree the NHL shouldn’t even dream of reopening any other contracts, but if you’re going to claim the arbitrator was wrong on his Kovy ruling, then back it up.

World Be Free

August 10th, 2010
9:45 pm

I have never been a Bettman-hater, but if this all unfolds as we fear it might, he needs to go down.

R. Stroz

August 10th, 2010
10:00 pm

By the time this is over, any other players, who have their contracts tossed, should channel their anger toward Kovy and Grossman.

Had the NHL’s version of Don King, in the name of Jay Grossman, hadn’t pushed the limits, Pandora’s box would have remained closed.

However, Kovy and Grossman fouled this up “big time.”

Badger Bob

August 10th, 2010
10:05 pm

Peter Chiarelli, regarding the NHL looking into Savard’s contract: “The League informed us upon their registration of the contract on December 1, 2009 that they would be investigating the circumstances surrounding this contract. From that point on, they commenced their investigation and it has been ongoing since then.”

So I guess the NHL can’t be accused of going back on something they’ve registered, since it seems to have been a “conditional” registration. NHL can be accused of handling this all slowly and horribly.

Hokie P. Clisters

August 10th, 2010
10:23 pm

The Kovy saga appears to be taking its toll on my friend, Elrod. While watching a baseball game yesterday, he took note of some of the new flat billed hats the youngsters were wearing. He then complained that these guys were circumventing the cap.

Jack

August 10th, 2010
10:26 pm

World be Free you are the first person that I heard that did not hate Bettman. Unfortunately he has not given us many reasons to approve of his work.
With that said I can’t see how the NHL can be in the positon to review contracts they already approved. This situation is grave considering we have a new CBA agreement that needs to be agreed to.

Elrod from Hall County

August 10th, 2010
10:33 pm

Actually Hkie P., I thought “circumventing the cap” wuz sumpthin’ they did to little boy babies just after they wuz birthed.

Brendan

August 10th, 2010
10:35 pm

Jack

August 10th, 2010
10:44 pm

Brendan great points. Its hard to understand that if owners are complaining of losing money that they would sign such ridiculous contracts.

Brendan

August 10th, 2010
11:14 pm

I tell you, it does make me very uncomfortable to hear that the NHL is reinvestigating contracts that it has ALREADY approved. It seems to me, that the time to INVALIDATE them was at their submission. Like in this case, with Kovalchuk. But once approved, “too bad, so sad,” you had your chance, NHL.

Now, if memory serves correctly, the only time salaries ever got scaled back happened as a consequence of the lockout. Namely and precisely, that the NHLPA agreed to a 24%, across the board, rollback of salaries. Indeed, “collective” bargaining. That’s not what’s happening here. Even slightly. What this is … is a joke. It’s too late to invalidate, once approved. The bigger question is … “Why did the NHL ever APPROVE these contracts in the first place?” I have no idea. I wondered that myself.

Now, in total seriousness, right about the time the Blackhawks got in trouble for not making ‘timely’ qualifying offers, they also rigorously began contract negotiations with Marian Hossa. I remember, CLEARLY, that the NHL said, “We’ll be investigating the possibility that ‘early retirement’ was discussed during contract negotiations.” And then … POOF! Nothing! We heard ABSOLUTELY NOTHING MORE on the subject. And that ‘pussyfooting’ has led to this.

Better LATE than never, right? That’s how I see it. The NHL drew the line in the sand. The line of demarcation is now set. No longterm deals past age 42. Not unless the salary is still ’somewhat plausible’ for the player. I.E., can’t be the ‘league minimum.’ If EVER, EVERR, EVERRRR there were an entity that procrastinated more than Don Waddell and the Atlanta Thrashers organization … it’s the Offices of the National Hockey League … when it comes to contract ruling. If the NHL is still looking into Marc Savard’s contract eight (8) full months later … and 13 months later, with respect to Marian Hossa, that’s just pathetic. Rule. Immediately. And if you don’t, by procrastinating, then the contract is valid. There’s got to be a ‘time limit’ for nixing these deals. There just has to be. And it ought to be included in the language of the next CBA. And I’m sure it will.

To me, it’s CLEAR that Kovalchuk’s deal needed to be invalidated. And I had no problem with that decision. I still think it took too long for them to ultimately decide to nix it, but … at least they did.

Brendan

August 10th, 2010
11:24 pm

Jack, thanks.

Trixie, </strong, help! I'm in the 3rd class steerage on the grand steamship.

Badger Bob

August 11th, 2010
12:55 am

Here’s the optimist’s view on what NHL has done. The “pending investigations” of those four contracts (Luongo, Hossa, Pronger & Savard) were intended to be warning shots by the NHL – essentially communicating to all agents and GMs that these contracts were at the edge of what would be acceptable and that anything beyond would be challenged. Kovy’s certainly went beyond.

The NHL can use the “pending investigations” as leverage against NHLPA to “encourage” them not to sue over the Kovy contract. Something like “Don’t sue, and we’ll close our investigations”. Let’s hope this is what is playing out.

OmniFan

August 11th, 2010
6:50 am

There’s a lot not to like about Gary Bettman, but he’s one of the best things going for the continuation of NHL hockey in the ATL. He’s doggedly stuck to his non-traditional market strategy and actively de fended troubled franchises. We may not be as lucky with his successor. He has his bumbles and he sure doesn’t come across like a Hockey Guy, but when Jim Balsillie comes sniffing around, it’s good to have Bettman in the Commissioner’s office.

Spud Webb

August 11th, 2010
7:54 am

Betman=Selig

Get The Puck Out

August 11th, 2010
7:59 am

These guys are playing hockey and getting paid very well. I think i’m gonna see if my employer will give me a 17 year contract for my welding expertise. I’ll take less in the last few years…..

World Be Free

August 11th, 2010
8:00 am

Jack, if you read Omnifan’s post you will know why I do not hate Bettman. Omnifan is right, as Bettman has supported the game in non-traditional cities, including my native Buffalo when the team was in trouble because of bad ownership (even worse than Golisano). I would hate to be the commish of any of the 4 major sports, these are tough jobs. The days of Bart Giamatti, my last real favorite commissioner in any sport, are done.

Brendan-right on- exactly my point. Not only has the league approved them, it was their team management people that wrote the contracts to begin with. Who can you invalidate your own work?

glovesave29

August 11th, 2010
8:57 am

Looks like this is just posturing…which is good. Bettman and Daly proved their point with Kovy’s contact.

http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Hockey/NHL/2010/08/10/14982756.html

kracker

August 11th, 2010
9:15 am

Yes, Glovesave, that is well and good. As most of us have said, attempting to undo already-approved contracts will only enrage players and union officials for no practicle reason.

I do think we all should track these players w/ the all but non-existent final year payouts to see when they retire. They should all have to recite ad naseum how, when they signed their contract, they fully expected to fulfill every last year of it and how sorry they are not to be able to meet their obligation to the organization, blah blah blah. The same goes for each GM, though most will probably be long gone from the team.

kracker

August 11th, 2010
9:29 am

Good news!!

ajcthrashers Thrashers president Don Waddell: “Our season tickets are up over last year at this point. Our renewals are way up over last year. “

Badger Bob

August 11th, 2010
10:42 am

oh kracker, I think you’ve just spurred another Sage rant with that post!

Badger Bob

August 11th, 2010
12:36 pm

With their signing of Dman Jordan Hendry, the Hawks are within a couple players of being set and punting Huet to the minors should get them cap compliant. The Roons are probably hoping to dump Thomas on somebody to get them cap compliant. There may be fewer moves and opportunities remaining than we thought.