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Ilya Kovalchuk's rejected contract: So what happens next?

Jul 20, 2010, 11:30 PM EDT

Thumbnail image for ilyakovalchuk6.jpgBy this time, you should probably be aware that the NHL reportedly rejected Ilya Kovalchuk’s 17-year, $102 million deal with the Devils. (If not, read about it here. I’ll wait. *crosses arms, looks at watch*)

While the league hasn’t made an official announcement on it yet, it seems like the Kovalchuk saga will continue yet again. I’m not sure if it should be compared to a seemingly invulnerable slasher movie killer like Freddy Krueger or something a bit more benign like a “Terminator” T-1000. Whichever lazy movie reference you’d like to attach to the situation, it’s obvious that the drama/agony is far from over.

Many on Twitter and other venues are asking: what’s next?

Though I tend to write about salary cap scenarios quite frequently, I’m no expert on the ins-and-outs of contract rejections/grievances so here are a few “expert” accounts of what should come next via Twitter. (I’d recommend following CapGeek’s Tweets in particular. If all the details don’t turn your brain to tapioca pudding, that is.)

First, here’s a quick take from Nick Kypreos.

PA has 5 days to file grievance. Then league/PA must find independent arbitrator that’s mutually agreed upon. Root canal sounds more fun!

TSN’s James Duthie explains the consequences of a potential arbitration.

If grieved, arbitration is binding. If arb. rules in favour of NHL, he is supposed to fix deal so it “conforms to the requirements” of CBA.

(Darren Dreger added that the deal would be “dead” if the NHL player’s association filed a grievance “until an arbitrator decides otherwise.”)

John Shannon reports that the contract could either be changed or a grievance could be filed within five days. Cap Geek says that a resolution could be reached within three days in a best case scenario while the worst case scenario would see the deal settled within 15 days. (Ugh.)

Kyle “Spector” Richardson provides a broader explanation of the next possible steps.

So now it’s up to either the Devils to restructure & re-file the contract or the PA to grieve it on Kovalchuk’s behalf.

Again, it’s important to note that the NHL hasn’t made an official announcement on the deal being rejected, although that might be a formality at this point. Who knows? This might just be a lot of mildly entertaining banter over a technicality or two, but the two sides could indeed go through an ugly and rare arbitration process. We’ll keep you up to date with everything from the rumors to the solid facts as this situation goes along.

My guess is that Gary Bettman and Lou Lamoriello might not be getting Christmas cards from each other this December, though.

  1. amy herman - Jul 21, 2010 at 1:33 PM

    i think the nhl did a good thing null and voiding the contract of kovalchuk because a long term contract is not good look at rick dipietro of the islanders he signed a 15 yr contract and look what happened to him. he has been injury prone. so lou should get creative and resign him for less time but more money.

  2. dkendall - Jul 21, 2010 at 4:01 PM

    Not going to get into the technicalities of caps and contract approval. Common sense says this is a really bad contract proposal. Hockey owners screamed during the lock-out (remember the lockout?) that the player salaries were backrupting the sport. Now the Devils, and several other teams I might add, are back in the business of seeing who can strangle the goose the craps the golden puck. If this thing flies you can bet I and many other fans will be watching anything but the NHL this coming season.

  3. aaron - Jul 21, 2010 at 4:54 PM

    You know its funny these kind of contracts have been used for over a year now, possibly longer. Why did they pick this particular contract to finally address this? Why didn’t anyone think that teams might try to circumvent the salary cap this way when they negotiated the last contract between the owner’s and players association. Obviously the owners are o.k. with these contracts, as well as the players, agents, and player’s association. I just have a feeling there is more going on then what has been leaked. Why hasn’t the NHL come out and formally say there are rejecting this contract. Finally how in the hell are they going to prove that the team and player colluded and decided that they don’t intend to honor the last few years of the contract?

  4. Mark McKee - Jul 21, 2010 at 6:33 PM

    I can answer that Aaron. It’s the same reason they invented the trapezoid or “Brodeur” rule. Do a google search on this term: Koharski, and this phrase “have another donut, you fat pig”. Then you’ll know 2 things: that (1) the NHL never forgives, and (2) why the cop in Wayne’s World was named Koharski.
    If the Penguins had made a deal like this with little Sidley, I doubt commissioner Buttman would have said a word…

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