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NHLPA Files Grievance In Ilya Kovalchuk Contract Dispute

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.

From a PA press release:

“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.