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Monday, July 26, 2010

I Wish You No Ilya Will

Here comes part two of the Kovalchuk drama.  Well in most people's minds it might be part eight or nine but it's my second post so we are going with part two.

According to the website...
 “The NHLPA has filed a grievance disputing the NHL's rejection of the Standard Player Contract between the New Jersey Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk. Under the terms of the CBA, the NHLPA and Mr. Kovalchuk are entitled to an expedited resolution of this matter. The NHLPA will have no further comment until this matter has been resolved by an Arbitrator.”
So now what happens?  Are we to expect an ongoing saga that lasts up to the beginning of September?  In a perfect world, the answer is no.  But we all know that the perfect world doesn't exist, otherwise the Red Wings and Penguins would play each other every year for the cup until both franchises cease to exist.

The next step is that the NHL and NHLPA must agree to hire a "system" arbitrator to rule on the case.  But wait a minute, you say.  Didn't the original wording of the CBA call for an arbitrator to be hired when it went into effect with any changes being made annually on September 1?  Why yes.  Yes it did...Only they never hired said person.  So now they must choose someone that is long overdue to be in that position.  This process should be done quickly, as the CBA calls for a ruling within 48 hours.  However, I don't see the league or players association playing nice in this situation.  So at this point, we wait to see where Kovy will be next season.

If the arbitrator upholds the NHL’s rejection, Kovalchuk will become an unrestricted free agent again. He can then either restructure his contract with the Devils or sign with another team.  Of course, the biggest speculation here is whether the 15 year $80 Million contract is still on the table with the Kings.  I would imagine it would be considering it is a much smaller offer in terms of money compared to the deal with the Devils, no pun intended (or maybe it was).

On the other hand, if the arbitrator rules that the deal does not violate the collective bargaining agreement and the NHL was in the wrong to have stopped it, the league must approve and register the contract immediately.  Thus, Kovalchuk stays a Devil until he dies on his skates.  Someone will wonder what the smell is in the locker room one day and find his old, decaying body frozen with rigormortis in front of his locker.

The kicker here is that the Devils have no right to appeal and have to wait for the NHLPA to do everything.  Their only recourse is to fix the contract now before it gets to the arbitrator (whoever that may be).  Otherwise, they are at the mercy of the system, which is unfortunate for the team and the fans.  Again, I go back to my original post on this, and my conspiracy theory about big Lou and his shadiness.
To summarize, the Devils signed Kovalchuk to this 17 year contract last Monday but the league informed them that same evening the contract was going to be rejected.  The Devils plowed ahead with their Tuesday Press Circus, announcing the signing anyway, attempting to force a feeding frenzy in their ticket sales department. 

Neither outcome is going to bode well for either the league, the players, or the fans.  I think it would be the best scenario for Kovalchuk to take the deal he originally got from Medvedev in the KHL for 4 years, $40 Million.  Then, he'd be back home in St. Petersburg playing for SKA, his pockets would be lined with the wealth he always wanted, he would be public enemy #1 with Devil fans, the league and NHLPA could continue to ignore the CBA rule structure, and all will be well with the world again.

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