Is anyone really surprised that the Ilya Kovalchuk saga has yet to see a final conclusion?
After dragging on 19 days into free agency, an agreement was reached with the New Jersey Devils and announced on Monday. A formal press conference was held yesterday with the full dog and pony show with all the right folks in attendance. From the moment the news leaked as to the terms of the contract on Monday, there was not single person with any knowledge of the CBA or just regular folks with a little common sense that didn’t think that the gist of the contract was to circumvent the CBA.
Last night’s news that the contract was “rejected” by the NHL was only peculiar in that it took over 24 hours for the league to come to the same conclusion. It is reported that he NHL had five days to reject the contract, even if it made it through the initial review with central registry and that the NHLPA then has five days to appeal the rejection to arbitration.
While other recent contracts pushed the limits, this one clearly was the one that broke the proverbial camel’s back. The key issues were the total length, the variance between years, and the probable reality that Kovalchuk will not play for 17 more years.
I am pleased that the league is drawing a line in the dirt on paying 44 year olds “chump change” (by comparison) in order to spread the cap hit over 17 years. I am not happy that they waited until after Devils fans were whipped into a frenzy and the official presser was held.
A major player in the whole Kovalchuk ordeal who may take a bum rap in the matter is Kovi’s agent, Jay Grossman. I am convinced that he works hard for his clients and is above board in his actions. Even Lou Lamoriello was highly complementary of Jay at the presser. My dealings with him have been refreshingly positive and he has been honest and forthcoming in our discussions.
Eventually, this should be dealt behind closed doors within the next few days. Money will be shifted and the term reduced as a compromise not to further aggravate the growing hostility between the league and the NHLPA.
The negotiations for the new CBA at the end of the 2012 season are a darkening cloud on the horizon and contracts like this one will be a key point where the owners will want a rule in place to protect them from themselves.