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Report: NHL offers "ultimatum" with NHLPA over Kovalchuk contract, dire consequences if not accepted

Sep 1, 2010, 11:05 PM EDT

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for kovalchuklouvanderbeek.jpgIf you found yourself disappointed by this afternoon’s news about the NHL and NHLPA agreeing to extend the deadline to decide the fate of Ilya Kovalchuk’s latest contract with the New Jersey Devils, don’t worry, business just picked up.

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks is reporting that the NHL has given the NHLPA a set of stipulations under which they’ll agree to the Ilya Kovalchuk contract and, in essence, grandfather his deal in as the last of its kind so long as the players union agrees to amend the collective bargaining agreement to end these sorts of deals… Or else.

A well placed source reports that the league has informed the Players’ Assn. that the league will grandfather the recently submitted Kovalchuk 15-year, $100M contract, Luongo’s 12-year, $64M deal that is entering its second season and Hossa’s 12-year, $63.3M deal that also is entering its second season into the CBA under the following conditions:

1. That the cap hit on future multi-year contracts will not count any seasons that end with the player over 40 years of age. The cap hit would be calculated on the average of the salary up through age 40 only.

2. That the cap hit on future contracts longer than five years will be calculated under a formula granting additional weight to the five years with the highest salary.

The league has given the PA, which is being directed by Donald Fehr, until Friday at 5 pm to accept these conditions. If the PA refuses, or if negotiations fail to yeild a common ground, the league has informed the PA that:

1. It will reject the Kovalchuck contract.

2. It will move to immediately devoid the Luongo contract.

3. It will move to immediately open proceedings for a formal investigation into the Hossa contract.

Take a second to digest all of that because that’s one heaping pile of “Whoa….”

Now I know you’re saying that this may not be true when it comes to stuff coming from the New York Post and that’s fair. Larry Brooks is a bit of a different guy though because he’s a staunch NHLPA supporter in his columns and he seems to have connections from within. This report is awfully detailed, however, but use your grain of salt as you will.

If this is all true though, the NHL has now turned the game against the NHLPA and Donald Fehr, plain and simple. It’s the classic setting for negotiation. The NHL will give the NHLPA what they want as far as Kovalchuk’s deal is concerned as long as they give in to amending the collective bargaining agreement to add the new rules on contracts and cap hits. If the NHLPA decides to tell the NHL to stuff it where the sun doesn’t shine, then they’re nixing Kovalchuk’s latest contract and declaring war on the other deals they’re investigating and zeroing in on Roberto Luongo next with Marian Hossa waiting in the wings.

And you thought there was an uproar over Kovalchuk? Just wait until Vancouver, the West Coast Branch of Tinfoil Haberdashery, gets involved. Chicago fans are still busy trying to figure out who the heck is still on the team after their summer. Presumably they’ll get angry if/when they see that Marian Hossa is still on the team but won’t be because the league is going to give his contract the grenade.

To be serious though, Friday now has the potential to be the end is the beginning is the end of all of this nonsense. The plans are laid out clear as day. Either the NHLPA goes along with the NHLs ideas and everything proceeds as normal and contracts from that point on will be judged differently or they fight and Kovalchuk either goes for it again or bolts to Russia, meanwhile Roberto Luongo gets his agent on the phone posthaste to start working on a new contract. Marian Hossa, meanwhile, starts to sweat things out a little wondering if the NHL is coming for him too.

This isn’t to say that Friday will be an Armageddon kind of day as far as these parties are concerned. It’s not. This just means that talk about actual hockey is either going to be able to happen uninterrupted or fall back behind legal wranglings while we’re on the precipice of a new season. What a fine mess we’ve found ourselves in.

  1. StakeX - Sep 2, 2010 at 12:10 AM

    Hmmmmmm that is in fact a lot to take in.
    With that said, I think I’m gonna have to side with the NHL on this one oddly enough. The CBA is there for a reason, and like most things in life, someone has found a loophole that makes it nearly irrelivant. Teams willing to use this loophole have a huge advantage because they are allowed to have a team thats technically worth more then a team thats “playing by the rules” under the CBA… which again, is totally against what the whole idea of a salary cap was intended to do.
    No matter how you look at it though, this can’t be good going forward. If the NHLPA rejects the NHLs threat and war is in fact declared by the NHL… one has to wonder how such a move will set the tone for the next couple years, when the CBA expires. Theres no denying that this very well could set the stage for another work stoppage if it were to spiral out of control.

  2. Alex - Sep 2, 2010 at 1:56 AM

    NHLPA should accept this. It’s a tough but reasonable offer. I am sure they can negotiate something in to help the PA save some face and not just cave. (Although it wouldn’t be the first time … ) and the NHL Doesn’t NEED to grandfather these in. They could just ram everything down the PA’s throats. This could be the first step in the two parties actually negotiating with each other … or fighting worse than ever.
    I say agree on this one PA please!

  3. njmako - Sep 2, 2010 at 6:28 AM

    If the NHLPA does not go for it watch how many players wind up overseas. If they do longer lockout in 2012/13 bottom line Bettman is a fool and has to go.

  4. Matt - Sep 2, 2010 at 8:45 AM

    Fight this. What arbitrator can side with the NHL when they try to void a contract that they already approved. Why sign contracts then if the league can say at any point “oh just kidding we dont like you anymore..VOID”. Is the Kovy deal a little long? Yeah. Is the team willing willing to take a cap hit even he’s done at the end? Looks like it. Why punish them for gambling with their own ability to win in th future? IMO, long term deals (+7 years) should have become a thing of the past once owners saw how they can kill you thanks to the Isles and PiPeitro. But hey 4-5 mill ayear for 13-15 games a year…yeah sign me up!

  5. russ - Sep 2, 2010 at 1:03 PM

    The DP deal was a 15 year deal, in which he earns the same amount ($4.5mil) each year. Normal contracts are like that. However, this loophole went from taking a slight advantage to absurd with the Kovy offer. Also to note, NHL did official state that the Luongo and Hossa deal are under review since the signing. The NHL wanted to ensure that those players were playing in time for the season, which is what he fans would like; but allow for time for management to investigate, and review how the league is trending in new long term contracts to “star” players. That is why we’re having the mess we have today.

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