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Report: NHL rejects Ilya Kovalchuk's front-loaded contract

Jul 20, 2010, 10:45 PM EDT

laughingdevils.jpgApparently “Loophole Lou” might have gotten in the way of the loophole-manipulating contract that Ilya Kovalchuk signed with his New Jersey Devils.

An AP report indicates that the NHL rejected the 17-year, $102 million contract the Russian winger was offered to stay in Newark. Keep in mind this isn’t quite “official” just yet, but it wouldn’t be shocking if the deal upset many in the league offices. Here’s more from that story.

Speaking on condition of anonymity because the NHL has not announced the decision to void the deal, the person tells The Associated Press on Tuesday night that Kovalchuk’s contract is illegal because the years of low salary at the end of the contract were added for the sole purpose of lowering the cap hit.

The person added that no side believes Kovalchuk will play the final years of the deal at the low salary numbers that were agreed to in the deal. The star forward was slated to earn only $550,000 in each of the last five seasons of the contract.

While this might just come down to the Devils making the deal a bit more “honest” (as in, spreading the money out more evenly), it’s still an interesting put-your-foot-down moment for a league that did little more than “investigate” dubious contracts in the past.

We’ll update this story as it goes along, but for some background on why this might have happened, here are a few links on the Kovalchuk contract.

Kovalchuk’s deal by the numbers, which will show just how absurd the final years of the deal really are.

Our story on the Kovalchuk press conference, which includes some commentary from Lamoriello that might have spelled (temporary?) doom for the contract.

Want to see some highlights of the press conference itself? Click here.

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