It feels a bit like a child’s game. That game where you pick between two people, rhyming the entire time.
It feels that way, doesn’t it? Roberto Luongo’s front-loaded contract? Nah, why bother. Marian Hossa’s 12-year-contract-that-will-never-be-completed? You’re fine. What about Marc Savard’s deal with Boston, during which he will make 96% of his money in the first five years of a seven year contract? Not a problem.
But Ilya Kovalchuk’s 17-year, $102 million behemoth, during which he makes $98.5 million over the first 11 years of the contract? Strike up the contract police.
“We want to thank Arbitrator Bloch for his prompt resolution of a complex issue,” said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly in a press release. “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.”
Daly is absolutely right. But if Kovalchuk’s contract circumvents the Salary Cap, so does Luongo’s, Hossa’s, Savard’s, Johan Franzen’s (Detroit), Chris Pronger’s (Flyers), and so on.
There are a dozen players currently playing in the National Hockey League under contracts meant to circumvent the Salary Cap. So why, all of a sudden, is the league raising issue with contracts such as Ilya’s?
It’s not even about Ilya Kovalchuk. It’s about negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement starting soon. The current CBA runs out before the 2012-13 season, and there are fears another work stoppage could be forthcoming.
Yes, that’s a long two seasons away. But this reads like the opening salvo from the National Hockey League to its’ Players Association. It’s an Association in turmoil, after Executive Director Paul Kelly resigned last August before interim Director Ian Perry resigned two months later. They still don’t have a replacement, nearly 10 months later.
The NHL is hedging its bets that the NHLPA, which released a tepid statement this afternoon proclaiming “disappointment” in Arbitrator Richard Bloch’s ruling, isn’t yet ready for a fight.
If it’s not ready yet, it better be soon. This is just the opening salvo of what will surely be many over the next 24 months. Let the negotiations begin.