It’s not over. It’s never over. The Kovalchuk story has taken its next step forward (backward?) when the NHL Players Association (NHLPA) filed a grievance against the NHL’s rejection of the contract signed with the Devils. If you haven’t been following the story closely, the question regards if the contract was considered a circumvention of the salary cap. The NHL decided that it was, and so invalidated the contract signed. There are a couple things that are fairly clear so far:
- The contract is OBVIOUSLY circumvention of the cap. Seriously, you’d have to be a freaking idiot not to see it that way, and both the Devils, Kovalchuk, the NHL and anyone with a pulse damn well knows it.
- The NHL is on (at best) shaky legal ground. Since it’s nearly impossible to prove the intentions of Kovalchuk to play to the end of the contract (until he’s 44), it’s nearly impossible to prove it’s anything other than a shrewd business deal.
The NHLPA issued a formal statement, that:
The NHLPA has filed a grievance disputing the NHL’s rejection of the Standard Player Contract between the New Jersey Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk. Under the terms of the CBA, the NHLPA and Mr. Kovalchuk are entitled to an expedited resolution of this matter. The NHLPA will have no further comment until this matter has been resolved by an Arbitrator.
Frankly at this point I think it’s all semantics. The NHL and the NHLPA will have to determine an arbiter, who will decide if the contract is legitimate or invalid. I think they’ll rule that it’s legitimate, though certainly stranger things have happened. If the contract is determined to be legitimate, all the shenanigans come to an end. If the contract is determined to be invalid, we start all over again.
Should the contract be rejected, the Dean Lombardi has reportedly indicated that the Kings would still be interested in pursuing his signature. That may be true, but frankly I’m coming to believe that this who situation is slowly wrapping up. The Kings need to move on, find a different player to fill out the roster, and get ready to rock this season.
Assuming Kovalchuk is indeed a Devil, and Gagne has already been moved, is there a player on another team that you think the Kings should be targeting via trade?