NHL/NHLPA Agree To Terms

The Ilya Kovalchuk saga has finally come to an end.

Since July 1st, the hockey realm has awaited the signing of Ilya Kovalchuk. A conclusion to his attempts to sign with the New Jersey Devils came in the wee hours of the morning on Saturday…two months later. NHL.com first released the news at 2:53 a.m.

The agreement between the NHL and the NHLPA required changes to the Collective Bargaining Agreement. In return for agreeing to the changes in the CBA, the NHL would accept Kovalchuk’s contract, and stop the investigations into Roberto Luongo, Marc Savard, Marian Hossa and Chris Pronger’s contracts.┬áThese contracts have now been grandfathered in and the new changes to the CBA take effect immediately and will only effect all new contracts starting today.

According to NHL.com, these are the terms that were agreed to:

The agreement includes two major regulations that go into effect immediately and will be a part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement until its expiration on Sept. 15, 2012. If there is no CBA at the start of the 2012-13 NHL season, the rules will be grandfathered until a new CBA is negotiated:

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 amendment closes the loophole in the CBA, and defines for agents, GMs and players what is acceptable in terms of long-term contracts. It also clearly defines that a long-term contract is five years or longer, and that the age of 41 is the limit for these contracts.

The importance here is that the league and the union have decided to rectify the controversial situation by changing the CBA in order to clearly define what was set forth in the Bloch ruling back in August. This indeed is a fair situation, because many throughout the league were unsure how Bloch’s ruling would affect all and future long-term contracts.

There are very few contracts that fall into this category. But as more and more talented elite players are heading into the same predicament (for instance, Zach Parise), it was best to close the loophole in the CBA so as to clearly define what is an acceptable long-term contract.

It was clear that the CBA needed to be defined immediately. If it had not been, the NHL could have lost Kovalchuk to the KHL, just because he couldn’t work out a reasonable contract to play for the NHL. Luongo’s deal would have been canceled, along with the possibility of the cancellation of Savard, Pronger and Hossa’s contracts.

This amendment was a good thing for both the league and the union. It diverted a possible war between the two groups. It also goes to show that there is hope for 2012 when the CBA is revisited.

The NHL and NHLPA were able to work together quickly and peacefully to resolve and clarify issues in the CBA. For now, the CBA negotiations in 2012 looks more promising.


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