August 25, 2010
To reiterate the NY Post's report from early this morning: There was no contract signed and submitted to the League, but rather a proposed structure for a new Kovalchuk contract.
According to a source with knowledge of the negotiation, the term of the contract was in the neighborhood of 15 years, and it was the term that appeared to be the point of contention between the sides. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly couldn't confirm the 15-year figure when we requested comment last night.
Dmitry also passes along the following: "We also learned that all sides were working deep into the night on the new framework, and nothing was final in any sense."
This was expected. The NHL doesn't just own all the cards right now in this poker game -- its name is on the outside of the casino.
We heard last week that the dialogue between the League, the Devils and agent Jay Grossman was ongoing; Monday's meeting of the minds in one location appeared to be the endgame, but obviously not.
The Richard Bloch arbitration ruling -- one that upheld the League's rejection of the initial 17-year, $102 million contract -- has given the League two critical mandates:
First, that even a contract similar in construction to that or Marian Hossa(notes) or Roberto Luongo(notes) could still be found to be in violation of the CBA; and second, that another round of arbitration over another rejected contract will come with Bloch's precedent-setting ruling on several "suspicious" aspects of the deal (the no-trade clause trigger, the base salary drops, etc.).
The NHL has time on its side; the Devils and Kovalchuk do not. This is killing their marketing of the upcoming season: Not a single mention of Kovalchuk on the Devils' official website's front page right now, for example. But it does appear that Kovalchuk and the Devils are going to see this thing through.
One more note on the NHL and those contract investigations: Daly told XM Home Ice's Hockey This Morning yesterday (listen here) that if the Hossa, Luongo, Chris Pronger(notes) and/or Marc Savard(notes) deals are found to have circumvented the salary cap, the penalty may not necessarily be a deregistration of the contract; rather, the CBA allows for financial penalties and having teams lose draft picks as punishment. Keep that in mind for the Hossa deal, especially.