Bruce Bennett

NHL reverses Devils penalty in Ilya Kovalchuk contract mess

Bruce Bennett The NHL will allow the Devils to pick in the first round this season, awarding them the 30th selection in the draft.

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NHL will not take Devils' first-round pick

The NHL will allow the Devils to pick in the first round this season, awarding them the 30th selection in the draft.

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Kovalchuk retires from NHL

Ilya Kovalchuk has stunned the North American hockey world by retiring from the NHL to return to Russia.


Penalized: NHL Hands Devils Hefty Fine For Cap Circumvention In Kovalchuk Mess

It's cute how the NHL phrases this news tonight.

"NHL, Devils resolve Kovy contract dispute."

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 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.


NHL Announces Kovalchuk Contract Approval, Shares Details Of New CBA Rules

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, 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.

In Lou We Trust explains:

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.


NHL Approves Kovalchuk Contract, Agrees With NHLPA On New Rules On Long-Term Deals

It's over.

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.

It's over.


An 'Ultimatum': NHL Reportedly Gets Serious With Players Association On Long-Term Deals

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.


'Semantics' Aside, NHL Rejects Framework Of New Kovalchuk Contract

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.

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