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It's cute how the NHL phrases this news tonight.
If your definition of "resolve" is "we're going to tell you what to do," then yes, this matter is resolved. The NHL has handed out a hefty fine to the New Jersey Devils over the Kovalchuk situation, stripping the club of $3 million in cash and two draft picks -- a third rounder in 2011 and a first rounder in the either 2011, 2012, 2013 or 2014.
The year on that first rounder is at the Devils' discretion, and according to the NHL.com report, the Devils have to alert the league by the day after the Stanley Cup is awarded in the year they select. Where do those two draft picks go? They vanish, and two players are robbed from NHL draft glory because of them.
Thanks, Mr. Lamoriello.
In all seriousness, the Devils aren't happy with this, obviously. They should feel lucky that the $3 million fine will not hit them in the salary cap, but don't tell them that this evening. Lou was short and sweet in the statement he released on the matter.
Newark, NJ – New Jersey Devils President/CEO/General Manager Lou Lamoriello today issued the following statement:
“We were today advised of the ruling by the Commissioner with respect to the Kovalchuk matter. We disagree with the decision. We acted in good faith and did nothing wrong. We will have no further comment.”
We quoted the whole thing there, even the dateline, just to show how succinct it was. We think it speaks volumes. Also, the "we did nothing wrong" thing seems rather petty when faced with the decision of an independent arbitrator who said they did in fact do something wrong, but nevertheless.
At the end of the day (and seriously, this better be the last update this StoryStream ever sees), the NHL has clearly won the war against long-term, cap circumventing contracts. They forced the NHLPA into an agreement on these a few weeks ago, and now they've sent a clear message to the NHL's teams.
Don't do this again, or we'll steal your stuff.
For more, be sure to check out our Devils blog, In Lou We Trust.
It took until almost 3 AM Saturday for the NHL to announce that they had signed, sealed and delivered the final paperwork, capping off an agreement between the League and the NHLPA that results in new CBA rules governing long-term contracts, as well as the approval of the Ilya Kovalchuk contract.
Kovalchuk is officially a Devil and the CBA has now been altered. Investigations into other questionable long-term contracts, including those of Roberto Luongo, Chris Pronger, Marian Hossa and Marc Savard, have been tossed aside.
Dan Rosen of NHL.com, who had a late night last night, explained the changes in the CBA.
1. While players and clubs can continue to negotiate long-term contracts (five years or longer) that include contract years in a player's 40s, for purposes of salary-cap calculation the contract will effectively be cut off in the year of the contract in which the player turns 41.
2. In any long-term contract that averages more than $5.75 million for the three highest-compensation seasons, the cap charge will be a minimum of $1 million for every season in which the player is 36-39 years of age. That $1 million value will then be used to determine the salary cap hit for the entire contract. If the contract takes the player into his 40s, the previous rule goes into effect.
The whole goal here is to stop teams from gaining the benefits of the "diveback" years at the end of the contract, which artificially lower the cap hit over the term of the deal. The changes last until the current CBA expires in September 2012.
The Kovy saga is over, but things aren't completely over for the Devils. They still need to get under the salary cap.
While Lou Lamoriello got what he wanted, the next challenge is now. He's got about a month to clear off $2,698,333 from the salary cap. Mind you, he actually needs to clear up more than that so whoever departs can be replaced by another player - be it a prospect or a minimum-salary signing. If you must know who I think the Devils should try and trade, then please read this post. It may be from July, but the principles are still the same.
ILWT also has a whole timeline this entire thing, starting with July 1. That's a good capper to this whole thing.
About an hour after we thought this thing would be pushed back -- again, the word comes down that the NHL and the NHLPA have agreed to new rules on long-term contracts. We don't know the conditions of the agreement, but we should probably expect that the NHLPA made serious concessions.
Darren Dreger of TSN first reported the news. The two sides are expected to make the official announcement around 5 PM Eastern, the deadline set for an agreement.
As a result of the agreement, Ilya Kovalchuk becomes a New Jersey Devil, two months and two days after free agency open and just 14 days before the start of training camp. Kovalchuk's cap hit of $6.66 million a season puts the Devils over the salary cap. They need to be under the cap by the start of the season.
But, for Devils fans (and all hockey fans, really), that's not much of a concern right now. Ilya Kovalchuk is a Devil for life, and a potential crisis between the League and the PA has been averted.
There's a deadline today in the Ilya Kovalchuk contract situation. By 5 PM today, the NHL is supposed to make a decision on whether or not they'll accept his new 15-year, $100 million deal with the Devils.
If you've been following this story all summer long, however, you know that won't happen. Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record, who surely just wants this thing to end after covering it since July, reported as much this morning.
It's not expected that they'll come to an agreement by 5, so it looks like we'll be waiting through the Labor Day weekend. Hell, even if they were expected to agree by 5, we know that with the way this thing has been all summer, they'd find a way to screw it up.
An agreement will come eventually. As Gulitti notes, the two sides know that they have to come to an agreement, or, well.... things could get really ugly.
14 days til training camp.
For the league to use the approval/rejection of the Kovalchuk contract as a bargaining chip manifestly undermines the salary cap system because it is in effect saying this: (1) whether or not this contract is actually a circumvention according to the CBA is irrelevant; (2) the league's ruling -- whether it says it's a circumvention or not -- is available in trade for favorable decisions on the part of the union.
There can be no, "do this or we'll reject the contract, even if it's valid; and if you do what we ask, we'll approve the contract, even if it's a circumvention." There is only "we reject it because it is prohibited by the CBA," or alternatively, "we approve it because it is allowed by the CBA."
Changing the rules of how cap hits are calculated -- IN THE MIDDLE OF THE TERM OF THE CBA -- is fundamentally unfair to all players who didn't cheat back when it was cheating and all players who now don't get to cheat now that the rules are different. That is more of a circumvention of Article 50 than the original Kovalchuk contract.
This thing could drag out for several more weeks at this point, so we've decided to start a new StoryStream solely dedicated to Ilya Kovalchuk news. For the rest of the saga, visit our all encompassing free agency StoryStream.
Let's run through the Ilya Kovalchuk-related headlines over at the LA Kings Insider blog, run by veteran sportswriter Rich Hammond, in chronological order from July 1 to today.
A slow, slow day
Enjoy your grilling
On Day 4...
Day 6, coming up
The saga continues
One more day (at least)
After one week...
Yeah, you get the point. Hammond does, too. The first sentence in one of those updates, and this came about a week ago, said "I don't even know if this qualifies as news anymore." And it's true. Just like the LeBron situation dragged on in the NBA, the Kovalchuk situation has officially crossed the line from annoying to absurd.
And there's still no end in sight. The most recent developments?
Well, according to the LA Times, Kovalchuk, who was on the ground in Los Angeles for negotiations on Tuesday, returned home while his agent, Jay Grossman, stayed behind.
Jay Grossman, Kovalchuk's New York-based agent, met with members of the Kings' hockey operations department before leaving Los Angeles on Tuesday night. It's not clear if Grossman and Kovalchuk made any concessions on their initial $100-million price. General Manager Dean Lombardi, who declined to comment, has said the club can't pay Kovalchuk a $10-million average annual salary, retain core players and add the pieces he still needs for the Kings to become Stanley Cup contenders.
So that's where we stand on the Kings front. What about other teams? Well, it looks like the Devils and SKA St. Petersburg are the only teams involved. Tom Gulitti, Devils beat writer, has more on that.
Meanwhile, the Devils are stuck, too. Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello remains tight-lipped and he and principal owner Jeff Vanderbeek appear determined to see this through until Kovalchuk signs with them or another team. The only other NHL team that is publicly involved is the Kings. Kovalchuk also has an offer from SKA St. Petersburg—reportedly four years for nearly $40 million total—in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, but it’s clear that returning to his home country is not his preference.
Who knows what's going to happen next, but don't hold your breath on anything happening soon.
Everybody in the hockey world was caught off guard on Wednesday afternoon when the NHL and the NHLPA extended the deadline for the league to make a decision in the Ilya Kovalchuk debacle. Why are the League and the PA cooperating in such fashion, most people asked.
Well, according to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, it's because the NHL is serious -- very serious, it seems -- about making sure their message on long-term contracts gets through. The League has offered an "ultimatum" to the PA, according to Brooks, saying that they will allow the recently-submitted 15-year, $100 million Kovalchuk contract should the PA agree to certain new collective-bargaining conditions.
Those conditions, according to the Post, are as follows:
1. That the cap hit on future multi-year contracts will not count any seasons that end with the player over 40 years of age. The cap hit would be calculated on the average of the salary up through age 40 only.
2. That the cap hit on future contracts longer than five years will be calculated under a formula granting additional weight to the five years with the highest salary.
Basically, it's a slightly different set of rules for long-term deals, where long-term is defined as "longer than five years."
Existing contracts for Roberto Luongo and Marian Hossa are also subject to these conditions being accepted by the NHLPA. If the PA refuses to accept these conditions by Friday at 5 PM, the new deadline set for approval or rejection of the Kovy deal, the NHL will reject the Kovalchuk deal, void the Luongo deal and formalize the investigation on the Hossa deal. They have the right to take just about any action they want if they think a deal circumvents the CBA, and this suggests that, yeah, they do feel that way.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly has refuted the idea that such an ultimatum has been given, but the League office is known for being less than truthful with this sort of thing. Of course they're not going to admit that there's been an ultimatum made.
That will obviously have a lot of wide-reaching consequences. First off, three elite players will be without contracts (although at this point, some Canucks fans might be happy with the Luongo contract coming off of the books).
Secondly, Marc Savard wasn't mentioned in Brooks' report. It's been rumored that Savard has been shopped around by the Bruins, but that the NHL's investigation into his contract has kept potential buyers away from the store. Since he wasn't mentioned, will teams be interested once again?
Thirdly, and most importantly, what does this mean for relations between the League and the union? Now that Donald Fehr is at the helm (officially or not), it's widely expected that the NHL won't just roll over and die like they have in the past. They have some leadership now and this thing is getting serious. It was just hyperbole a few weeks ago, but now, it does look like this is truly the first battle on the way to CBA negotiations in 2012.
Just when we thought this Ilya Kovalchuk thing could finally end -- you know, two months after it began -- we hear this:
The Ilya Kovalchuk contract situation expected to reach a conclusion by 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday will instead continue until 5 p.m. ET Friday. The NHL and NHLPA mutually agreed to extend the deadline to accept or reject the latest contract Kovalchuk signed with the New Jersey Devils.
That's Dan Rosen of NHL.com, breaking the hilarious news. That's what it is at this point: just absolutely, positively hilarious. But seriously, why the delay? Here are a few possible scenarios:
- The NHL was going to reject the deal, but they want to make it work so they're chatting with the Devils and trying to get a fix made by Friday. Why else would the PA have agreed to extend this deadline?
- The NHL is going to reject this thing regardless, but they want to wait until everybody is gone, on their way to Labor Day Weekend vacation spots on Friday afternoon. One of the first rules of PR: when you're announcing bad news, you wait til the end of business on Friday.
- The NHL likes playing sick jokes on people.
16 days til training camp.
The NHL is waiting until the last possible moment to make a decision on this second Ilya Kovalchuk contract. They have to make a decision by 5 PM Eastern on Wednesday, and if the rest of this crazy, Ilya-filled summer is any indication, they'll make that decision at 4:59ish.
But on this night before the decision is made, the details of the contract have leaked, at least according to one reporter.
Here's what the contract looks like, according to Kypreos.
2010-11: 6 million
2011-12: 6 million
2012-13: 11 million
2013-14: 11.3 million
2014-15: 11.3 million
2015-16: 11.6 million
2016-17: 11.8 million
2017-18: 10 million
2018-19: 7 million
2019-20: 4 million
2020-21: 1 million
2021-22: 1 million
2022-23: 1 million
2023-24: 3 million
2024-25: 4 million
15 years, $100 million.
So now, we ask the question: will this deal pass the test? Those three years at $1 million could be an issue, and if the Devils argument for having those "diveback" years at the end of the deal is that they believe Kovalchuk will be worth that little money at the tail end of his career, how can they argue in favor of the increase at the end of the deal?
It'll be interesting to see what happens tomorrow, and it'll be interesting to see if we're going to another arbitration hearing if this thing is rejected.
17 days til camp.
The league will reject the contract. New Jersey knows they will reject the contract. They welcome it. Because they think they can prevail in arbitration.
And I'll even throw in a bonus prediction. If what I just described occurs, the NHLPA will win arbitration 2.0. Why? Because they will argue that they addressed every issue raised by arbitration 1.0, got rid of the NMC language, corrected the weak-ass tail, and even reduced the term to conform to the age limit of Hossa and Luongo.
The counter-argument from the league will be, "but those contracts are still under investigation." And the NHLPA's counter would be: "So given this contract is no worse than those contracts and is in some ways better, and is exponentially much better than Kovalchuk 1.0, SPC 2.0 deserves at least as much leeway as the Hossa and Luongo deals.
After all, those contracts occurred without precedent, while IK 2.0 has their example to look to, and -- most importantly -- conforms to every guideline established by the first arbitration. In other words, if you think this contract is (merely) just as potentially problematic as Hossa, then it should get the same treatment as Hossa: approval, followed by stern warning memo and prolonged amorphous investigation."
The Devils have submitted an Ilya Kovalchuk contract proposal to the NHL. Multiple sources are reporting that news, including Dimitry Chesnokov of Puck Daddy and Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. Chesnokov is reporting that the deal will be approved by the NHL.
Gulitti backed off a bit today, saying that things weren't necessarily completely finalized. It does appear as if this thing will be done, though.
The terms of this contract are not yet known, but it'll obviously be interesting to see what kind of cap hit the Devils were forced to take on and how long this deal will be in length.
Whether you're a Devils fan or not, if this thing does become final, this is good news for the NHL. Kovalchuk will be staying in North America after it looked like there was a very strong possibility of him heading to the KHL, at least on a temporary basis, and there's no denying that losing a talent like that would've been a terrible black eye for the league.
The players wouldn't have been happy and it could've further polarized the League and the NHLPA, and since it looks like Donald Fehr will be at the helm sooner rather than later... well, it wouldn't have helped relations.
On Monday, the Devils met with NHL officials in New York to discuss what may or may not work in submitting a new contract agreement with Ilya Kovalchuk. The talks were "conceptual," according to NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly.
On Tuesday, Devils officials were in Atlantic City on an unrelated errand, "unable to comment" when asked questions by SB Nation.
On Wednesday, we learned why the Devils couldn't comment. A report in the New York Post, later backed up by Puck Daddy, said that the NHL rejected the framework of a new contract proposed by the Devils.
Note that word: proposed. Not submitted, proposed.
You understand, then, how one of the parties who did the reporting on this second rejection, would get a little ticked off when Gary Bettman basically called that reporting a lie. Here's what the Commissioner said to ESPN's Scott Burnside at the World Hockey Summit in Toronto:
"In order for a contract to be rejected, there would have to be a signed contract submitted," Bettman said Wednesday after addressing the World Hockey Summit. "There has not been a signed contract submitted."
Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy called Bettman's comments "bullshit semantics." Sounds about right.
At the end of the day, the reporting here holds up: the NHL rejected the framework for a new deal, meaning things are back to square one. There's no deal with the Devils yet and the KHL appears to be a possibility yet again.
Training camp starts in three weeks.
If at first you don't succeed, try again, right?
The NHL may have rejected a 17-year contract the first time, but now, Ilya Kovalchuk, his agent Jay Grossman and the New Jersey Devils are going to great lengths to make sure the League approves things this time around.
Those lengths include a sit down meeting at the NHL offices -- just to make sure a new contract between the parties is kosher. Tom Gulitti at Fire & Ice has the details:
Both ESPN’s E.J. Hradek and Puck Daddy’s Dmitry Chesnokov have reported that Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek, Devils president/GM Lou Lamoriello and Jay Grossman, the agent for Ilya Kovalchuk, met today with NHL executives at the league’s offices.
The expectation, of course, is that this represents the final stage of the summer-long Ilya Kovalchuk saga and that a deal will be finalized within the next 24 hours. No doubt, all parties, this time, want to make sure there are no glitches like the one that led to an arbitrator’s ruling to uphold the NHL’s rejection of Kovalchuk’s initial 17-year deal with the Devils.
Terms of the new deal have not yet been discussed publicly but, at this point, it does appear Kovalchuk will be remaining with the Devils.
Finally, we can safely say that this whole mess might be over this week.
I'm a little surprised at how "short but sweet" the opinion is. The argument [arbitrator Richard Bloch] makes -- or I guess the one he accepts -- is pretty much exactly the one I laid out ("The League's Case"), but it's interesting how simply the whole thing lays out, and how much the NHLPA hung their whole case on the letter/spirit dichotomy. It sums up like this:
NHLPA: The CBA doesn't explicitly say you can't do this.
NHLPA: So we're done here.
NHLPA: But that's all we've got.
Arbitrator: Okay, now we're done.
We've obtained a copy of the full text -- stick tap to Eric Macramalla of Offside: A Sports Law Blog -- of Richard Bloch's arbitration ruling in the Ilya Kovalchuk dispute. The 20-page document is embedded below.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly released a statement via press release late this afternoon after Arbitrator Richard Bloch upheld the League's decision to reject Ilya Kovalchuk's 17-year, $102 million contract.
NEW YORK (August 9, 2010) -- Bill Daly, Deputy Commissioner of the National Hockey League, today released the following statement with regard to the decision by independent arbitrator Richard Bloch that the League properly rejected the contract agreed to by the New Jersey Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk:
"We want to thank Arbitrator Bloch for his prompt resolution of a complex issue. His ruling is consistent with the League's view of the manner in which the Collective Bargaining Agreement should deal with contracts that circumvent the Salary Cap."
The NHL Players Association also released a short statement via press release.
TORONTO (August 9, 2010) – The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) released the following statement today:
“The NHLPA is disappointed with the Arbitrator’s ruling to uphold the NHL’s rejection of the contract between the New Jersey Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk.
The NHLPA is currently reviewing the decision and will have no further comment at this time.”
Lou Lamiorello and the New Jersey Devils also released a statement, and that one probably is the most telling of the three.
Kovalchuk could still remain a New Jersey Devil, and if Lamiorello gets his way, that will likely happen.
New Jersey Devils President/CEO/General Manager Lou Lamoriello today issued the following statement in response to Arbitrator Richard Bloch’s decision in regard to the team’s contract with Ilya Kovalchuk:
“We have reviewed and respect Arbitrator Bloch's ruling in the Kovalchuk matter. We also note and appreciate his finding that nothing in his opinion should be read as suggesting that either the club or Ilya Kovalchuk operated in bad faith or on the basis of any assumption other than that the Standard Player Contract was fully compliant with the CBA. That has been our consistent position throughout.
“While we do not currently have a contract with Ilya Kovalchuk, discussions have resumed and we are hopeful that a contract will be reached that meets with the principles in Arbitrator Bloch's award and the NHL's approval."
I'm not being daft, I don't see how it's circumvention, but I'm sure further information will come out later explaining it. I suppose I have to eat my share of crow given that I argued that it wasn't in the past weeks. Clearly, based on the result, I was wrong. So I'd like to know how I'm wrong. I'm sure there has to be something, because the last I checked, the "spirit" of a contract doesn't really mean anything as opposed to the actual contract itself. But perhaps that's a faulty assumption of my own.
Needless to say, a lot of Devils fans are unhappy about the decision. Especially considering that nothing was (or likely will be) done to Tampa Bay for the Vincent Lecavalier contract; Vancouver for the Roberto Luongo contract; Philadelphia for the Chris Pronger contract; Chicago for the Marian Hossa contract; Calgary for the Miikka Kiprusoff contract; or Detroit for both the Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen contracts. It may be silly to claim the NHL has it in for the Devils, but in the heat of the moment, it's a tempting thought. In fact, even though I argued against re-signing Kovalchuk, I'm certainly annoyed and baffled by this turn of events.
That said, I'm going to hold off on the snark and rage and what-have-you until there are details as to why the rejection was sustained. Right now, the situation is simple: Kovalchuk is an unrestricted free agent. The Devils can re-sign him to a different deal; or he can go elsewhere. That's the reality, let's consider the next step. Do the Devils re-sign him and for what? Do the Devils let him walk?
It'll be interesting to see what the Devils decide to do from here. It's probable that they have a contingency plan in place from here and could be prepared to announce a modified contract with Kovalchuk as soon as this evening. At the same time, given the amount of time it took for Kovalchuk to sign with a team after free agency opened, we might not have an end to this for some time.
It drags on.
Arbitrator Richard Bloch has reportedly sided with the NHL in the Ilya Kovalchuk contract dispute, striking down the 17-year contract Kovalchuk signed with the New Jersey Devils several weeks ago. Liz Mullen at Sports Business Journal first reported the news.
Since, the NHL has also announced the news via Twitter. Statements from both the League and the NHLPA are expected soon.
With the ruling, Kovalchuk becomes an unrestricted free agent once again. He's free to sign with the Devils once again, or he could potentially head to Russia or another NHL team.
That's not the big part of this, however. The NHLPA will, quite obviously, not be happy with the ruling, and this could very well be the first battle in a long series of battles in the run up to negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement. The current one expires following the following the 2011-2012 season.
The NHL decided to take a stand on these long-term mega contracts, and the new CBA will likely include a distinct rule on these. For the time being, Devils fans will likely opine about the double standard -- sure, Kovalchuk's contract was long and it clearly exploited a loophole in the CBA, but other teams in the league were able to hand out similar deals without consequence.
With the Kovalchuk contract, at 17 years, $102 million, the NHL has drawn a line in the sand. To many fans, especially those in small markets that wouldn't be able to afford these mega contracts, thus eliminating the justification for the 2004 NHL lockout, this news is a welcome sight.
It'll be interesting to see what the NHLPA and the Devils have to say on the matter.
Maybe the NHLPA's best chance is to drive home the point that, not only are the Kovalchuk and Hossa (etc.) contracts the same, but by rejecting one, it leaves it up to the league's discretion whether it wants to meet up with the system arbitrator at a later date to throw out the Hossa deal, and maybe the Luongo deal, too, and maybe Zetterberg and Franzen, etc.. And some very disturbing consequences arise from throwing out those contracts. For example, if the arbitrator rules that Hossa's contract is void, then the commissioner has it entirely within his discretion to declare any and all games Chicago played with Hossa last year retroactively forfeit.
Obviously, Bettman -- unless he actually literally loses his mind -- wouldn't do anything of the sort.
But the NHLPA could argue that ruling against the Kovalchuk contract would lead to de-registering at least some of those other contracts, at which point there would be massive grievance filing from all corners of the league (Detroit, Vancouver, Philadelphia, etc.), possible defections of players whose contracts are de-registered, all of which would be the #1 NHL story for the foreseeable future, which would be catastrophic for the league in this fragile state etc., etc., long argument short: it's simply too destructive to go down that path, for the league, for the players, for everyone. The NHLPA would be arguing, in essence, that the NHLPA and the league are on the same side, the side of preserving the NHL. Yes, they all screwed up when they left themselves open to these contracts, but what's done is done, and luckily there are only a couple more people this could apply to (next summer) before the loophole is closed and the problem is solved.
The arbitration hearing in the Ilya Kovalchuk matter between the NHL and the NHLPA has come to an end, reports Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record. Arbitrator Richard Bloch apparently will not make a decision before Monday, the deadline for his decision.
The grievance hearing in Boston to decide the fate of Ilya Kovalchuk’s rejected contract with the Devils has ended.
System arbitrator Richard Bloch has until the end of business on Monday to submit his decision to the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association.
Bloch can side with the NHL and throw out the 17-year contract Kovalchuk signed with the New Jersey Devils on grounds that it circumvented the collective bargaining agreement, or he could side with the NHLPA by upholding the contract on grounds that the deal is in line with the CBA.
If he says it's a good deal, this mess is over. If he throws it out, Kovalchuk becomes an unrestricted free agent again.
According to infallible Twitter, the next chapter in the serial blockbuster known as Kovalchuk Month begins tomorrow, with day one of the hearing. There has obviously been a lot of chatter in the Kovalchukosphere about the NHLPA's supposedly slam dunk case, Bettman's vendetta against the Devils, the league not having a leg to stand on, the groundwork being laid for CONSPIRACY if the league should prevail, and even Brian Burke conceding, essentially, that these kinds of deals are bogus and bad for the league but basically allowed by the CBA.
I'm not so sure they are allowed, as I said in a previous post.
[Burke] assumes that the only way to prove circumvention is to demonstrate that this one guy (Kovalchuk) will retire before he gets to the end of his contract. Obviously, one can't prove that Kovalchuk will not play till he's 44 anymore than one can prove Kovalchuk is not immortal. Yet the argument, "we just don't know if he's immortal, we will have to wait and see what happens," as the basis of an employment contract that extends to the end of time, is incontrovertibly stupid. And we wouldn't have to wait till the end of time (or his death) to prove it either.
I've laid out my argument in bits and pieces over several posts, but to celebrate Arbitration Eve, I decided to boil it all down to one short post. I failed to make it short.
There's light at the end of the tunnel in the Ilya Kovalchuk saga... or something.
After the NHL rejected his 17-year contract with the Devils last week on grounds that it circumvented the collective bargaining agreement, the Players Association grieved the decision, an action which forces the parties to go before an arbitrator to sort things out.
In line with Section 48.5 (a) of the CBA, a system arbitrator has now been selected and a hearing date, either next Monday or Tuesday, has been set. Tom Gulitti, Devils writer at The Bergen Record, says that the hearing will take two days and that a decision will come down no more than 48 hours later.
From what I’ve been told, the system arbitrator will mostly likely only rule whether the NHL’s rejection of the contract was valid or not. If the arbitrator rules that the contract was a circumvention of the CBA and the salary cap, then Kovalchuk will become an unrestricted free agent again. If the arbitrator rules that the contract does comply with the CBA, then the NHL must approve and register the contract.
According to the CBA, the system arbitrator would also have the option of reworking the contract if he decides it is a circumvention of the CBA—depending upon the reason it is a circumvention. (The team and the player would then have three days to agree upon a different contract that complies with the CBA, if they chose) The NHL apparently cited more than one reason for rejecting the contract in the rejection letter and that could play into that option.
Jewels From The Crown has been providing the best media coverage of the Kovalchuk contract situation from the beginning. Quisp's take on the bringing the case to an is no exception:
In response to the (many) people saying, and now it's time to select an arbitrator and the league and the NHLPA have to agree and that could take months... No. Because of two facts. One, the CBA requires that there already be an arbitrator. The arbitrator is on retainer or on hold or in the on-bat circle or whatever you call it, year-round.
He delves deep into the relevant sections of the CBA to get an understanding of the arbitrator selection process.
Days after the NHL rejected the contract signed between the New Jersey Devils and free agent forward Ilya Kovalchuk on the grounds that the deal circumvented the salary cap and the collective bargaining agreement, the NHLPA has filed a grievance in the matter.
“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.”
The next step is for the union and the NHL to agree on an arbitrator. Once that person is agreed on, he or she will have 48 hours to rule in the matter. If the arbitrator sides with the NHL and throws the contract out, Kovalchuk will become a free agent again. If the arbitrator sides with the PA, the Devils and Kovalchuk, the NHL will be forced to accept the contract.
That "expedited resolution" part is important, though. Kovalchuk, obviously, doesn't want to be in limbo as the season approaches. As Tom Gulitti originally pointed out, the League might opt to stall in finding an arbitrator. The NHLPA will want to find one as quickly as possible, keeping in line with the interests of their member.
The union had until 5 PM on Monday to file the grievance. The development isn't a surprise.
The New Jersey Devils had their press conference reintroducing their newest Devil, Ilya Kovalchuk, and had Jamie Langebrunner, Zach Parise, and Martin Brodeur along with others to bring Kovalchuk aboard. According to reports, those conferences may have been too soon. This from Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos:
Here is the reason why
NHL deems Kovy contract "a retirement contract". Says it "artificially drops cap hit". Also states its too overloaded the first 10 yrsless than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry®Nick Kypreos
The league is stepping in due to the general absurdity of the deal, but they run a fine line because of the fact that there is no hard line saying what is too far. There will be more to come on this tonight and in the next few days.
When you land the biggest free agent for 2010, it is understandable to be excited about the signing. When you get that player at a $6 million dollar cap hit, it makes the news that much better. So, why does it feel that Devils fans aren't jumping for joy over this deal. From our Devils site, In Lou We Trust:
I'm going to forthright, I'm not fully excited about the deal. As far back as May, I made the case that while Kovalchuk's talent is unquestionable and there's some evidence he isn't so awful on defense, to re-sign him will present serious problems on the roster both in terms of position and cap space. That is, it would be more trouble than he's worth. As time went on, I re-iterated that point after the recent Mikko Koivu extension. Re-signing Kovalchuk could make it so financially difficult for the Devils given what Zach Parise and Travis Zajac could demand down the line that it would be better to forget about the Russian sniper. Not to mention that goal scorers don't tend to remain goal scorers much later in their career, per this sobering post by Quisp at Jewels from the Crown. So I'm not 100% behind this deal. I don't hate it, but what happens next will affect how I feel about this contract.
How the Devils handle the rest of the offseason will be just as important as landing Kovalchuk was. If the Devils win the Cup this year and have to lose Zajac and Parise during the offseason, will the deal still be seen as a win?
The long-standing drama of where Ilya Kovalchuk was going to sign ended Monday when the winger decided to remain with the Devils. Now the focus shifts to the front-loaded 17-year contract that will keep him there.
On the off-chance that Kovalchuk should play out the contract, he would be 44 years old when it expires. Of course, he would earn the vast majority of the $102 million included in the deal in the first 11 seasons.
SB Nation blog On the Forecheck says the contract is emblematic of a problem that needs to be addressed in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. The blog offers its own two-pronged solution to correct the loophole.
Quite simply, it's pathetic to see the big-market teams driving truckloads of cash through this loophole in the CBA, and both the NHL and NHLPA need to address this as part of their upcoming negotiations. For the league, it makes a joke out of the competitive balance aspect of the salary cap, and for the players at large, it's taking money out of their pockets.
In case you're wondering, here's how the contract is structured year-by-year, courtesy of The Star-Ledger.
2010-11: $6 million
2011-12: $6 million
2012-13: $11.5 million
2013-14: $11.5 million
2014-15: $11.5 million
2015-16: $11.5 million
2016-17: $11.5 million
2017-18: $10.5 million
2018-19: $8.5 million
2019-20: $6.5 million
2020-21: $3.5 Million
Ilya Kovalchuk, the prize of the 2010 NHL free agency class, will remain with the Devils, the team announced on Monday. It was rumored that the Kings had the upper hand on signing Kovalchuk, but the three-time All-Star ultimately decided to stay in New Jersey. The details of the new contract are not yet available.
The Devils will host at 1 p.m. ET press conference on Monday to officially announce the news.
Kovalchuk, 27, is twice a 50-goal scorer, and tallied 85 points last season.
For more on this news, head to SB Nation’s In Lou We Trust.
Stop me if you've heard this before, but it seems, according to the Los Angeles Times, that the Kings are "98% sure" they'll sign free agent left wing Ilya Kovalchuk, the prize of this summer's NHL free agents.
One source familiar with the discussions said he’s 98% sure it will get done and that Kovalchuk will be a King. But in a process as bizarre as this one has been at every step, and with neither Kovalchuk’s agent nor Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi willing to comment, that 2% is too much wiggle room.
Of course, as Kings fans can attest the past 16 days, the two sides have been down this road before.
Anton Volchenkov and Ilya Kovalchuk share an agent. Jay Grossman has been engrossed (see what I did there) in talks with the Los Angeles Kings lately, as he tries to hash out a contract for the still un-signed prize of this year's free agent market.
But Volchenkov, who signed with the New Jersey Devils earlier in the free agency period, is lobbying Kovalchuk to make a return to Newark. From Fire & Ice:
Volchenkov said he has talked to left wing Ilya Kovalchuk a couple of times since he signed with the Devils.
“I’ll be really happy if he signs here,” Volchenkov said. “He’s a very good player. But it’s not my decision. The decision is his.”
Yep, day 15. This is the biggest news today.