The NHL has rejected Ilya Kovalchuk’s 17-year, $102 million contract with the New Jersey Devils on the grounds that it circumvents the NHL’s salary cap. Stayed tuned because this saga is going to get very interesting now. AJ and I will certainly keep you updated right here…
Update 10:28PM – It is believed the NHL rejected the deal because the NHL doesn’t believe either the player or the Devils expected he would be playing near end of deal. If the NHLPA grieves the leagues decision, the contract remains dead until an arbitrator decides otherwise
Under CBA, Player’s Association has 5 days to file grievance, then arbitrator will decide
Update 10:07AM – NHL’s official statement. National Hockey League Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly today issued the following statement regarding the free agent contract forward Ilya Kovalchuk signed with the New Jersey Devils: “The contract has been rejected by the League as a circumvention of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Under the CBA, the contract rejection triggers a number of possible next steps that may be elected by any or each of the NHLPA, the Player and/or the Club. In the interim, the player is not entitled to play under the contract, nor is he entitled to any of the rights and benefits that are provided for thereunder. The League will have no further comment on this matter pending further developments.”
Basically the Devils have a few options. The could restructure the entire deal and refile with the league to see it is accepted. If the Devils feel they have a good case moving forward with the current deal, they can file a grievance against the league’s decision, something they have 5 days to do. Should it go to an arbiter, I believe they have a good case because there are enough examples of guys playing into their 40′s. If this does go to an arbiter and he rules in favor of NJ, then the contract stands and the league MUST accept it but it the arbiter rules in favor of the league, the contract is voided and Kovalchuk becomes a UFA once again. If that happens, I guess we’ll find out how much he really does want to play in NJ.
Like I said last night, this whole situation has gotten very interesting. I am trying to look at it from a hockey fan’s point of view and not a Devils fan because looking at it as a Devils fan, I might get accused of being a graduate of the Michael Kay Homer School.