Mon Sep 13 09:27pm EDT
There would be no loss of salary cap space for Jersey, which couldn't afford to lose any breathing room. There would be no financial hit for Kovalchuk, despite being a willing party to the cap circumvention. The NHLPA cannot appeal, unless the courts get involved.
What the NHL ended up doing was smacking the Devils across the mouth with a rolled up newspaper, imposing the maximum fine and the forfeiture of draft picks in the agreed upon guidelines by the NHL and the NHLPA.
From the NHL, which snuck out the news early Monday evening:
As a result of the finding by Arbitrator Richard Bloch on August 9, 2010, that Ilya Kovalchuk's initial free agent contract with the New Jersey Devils, dated July 19, 2010, constituted a circumvention of the NHL/NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement (the "CBA"), the National Hockey League announced today that the Club has been disciplined in accordance with Section 26.13(c) of the CBA as follows:
The Club has been fined $3 million.
The Club will forfeit its third-round draft choice in 2011 as well as a first-round draft choice in one of the next four Entry Drafts. It will be the Club's decision when, within the next four years, it will forfeit its first-round choice. The Club must advise the League of that decision by the day following the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Final in the calendar year in which the choice will be forfeited. Per the terms of the settlement reached earlier this month by the NHL and the NHLPA, there will be no corresponding reduction in the Club's Payroll Room resulting from the Club fine.
The League now considers the matter closed and will have no further comment on the situation, including with respect to the discipline that was imposed today.
Yes, case closed. Case closed for the Blackhawks and Marian Hossa(notes), who will make $55.3 million in the first seven years of his contract and $8 million in his last five. Case closed for Roberto Luongo(notes) and the Vancouver Canucks, who'll not only be under contract at 43 years old but make $56,998,000 in his first eight years and $7 million in the last four. No fines for you. Enjoy those draft picks.
Case closed for all the contracts the NHL looked the other way on until Lou Lamoriello, the Devils and Kovalchuk decided to dabble in absurdity with a contract that allowed the League to take a stand, goad the NHLPA to the bargaining table and close a loophole two years before the next CBA negotiation.
For the help, the Devils will offer a tribute of $3 million and a few picks. Tom Gulitti reports they could appeal to the Board of Governors, which would be like a mouse appealing its death sentence to jury of alley cats. Still think Lamoriello was in on it?
Thus ends the Summer of Kovy. The games can't get here fast enough, can they?