This summer, arbitration will decide whether or not the New Jersey Devils and Ilya Kovalchuck attempted to circumvent the current CBA and compromising the league with the seventeen year, $102 Million contract.
Shortly after Bill Daly, NHL Deputy Commissioner, rejected the terms of the contract, all parties involved voiced a brief opinion on the contract, and then said they had no further comment until the issue was resolved. Typical legal mumbo jumbo.
Heading into the hearing however, history may be on the side of Ilya Kovalchuck, and it may not be to the liking of the New Jersey Devils. This is not the first ridiculously long contract to be signed, nor is it the first contract over 100 million dollars. There has been plenty of talk about what contracts the league should have shot down, and for that matter, what teams are secretly wishing the league had shot down.
Not to beat a dead horse, but Robert Luongo, Rick Dipietro are two names that come to mind.
Oh sure, we could sit back and point fingers at who is to blame for the start of these ridiculous contracts. My money is on Kevin Lowe and his poaching attempts – teams want players locked up longer. Kovalchuck is beyond the days of being an RFA; but the principle is still there. (Yes Kevin Lowe, I still hate you for the Vanek contract and attempted poach. They say time heals all wounds, which in my book successfully puts you above Brett Hull and No Goal.)
Kovalchuck wins either way in this arbitration hearing. If the Devils win their case, he gets his major deal. If the league wins, Kovalchuck becomes a free agent once again, and the media circus still surrounds him (its getting old but it’s still better than hearing about Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, or how terrible the New York Islanders or any team from Florida continue to be).
My money is on the Devils winning the hearing. History is just on their side. I would not be surprised if the arbitrator rules in favor of the NHL. The argument could be made that the precedence is there to honor such contracts, because no rejection has ever been made – but the precedence of rejecting contracts has to start somewhere.
If the NHL is smart, they won’t close door this thing, with fans learning about it after the fact from team, league, player, and union reactions. Nah, you want hockey ratings to soar through the roofs in late July? Put that shit on Versus and cover it like the Lebron special on ESPN. I mean shit, what will normal Versus viewers miss out on – an hour or two of fishing or bull riding? I’d almost like to watch both sides sit there and sweat it out in front of a lawyer or two.
Having said that, I think we have officially spent way to much time on Ilya Kovalchuck this summer.