by Patrick Hoffman on 07/31/10 at 09:00 AM ET
With Illya Kovalchuk’s hearing scheduled for next week, I figured now would be a good time to discuss New Jersey Devils’ hockey with Chris Wassel, host of The Program on Blog Talk Radio, owner The Hockey Program web site and now the New Jersey devils blogger for The Fourth Period.
PH: As a Devils fan, how does this Kovalchuk situation make you feel? Why?
CW: It is like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup….you know the peanut butter is in the middle and much like Kovalchuk…you have to dig past the chocolate to get to the prize. In all seriousness, at least now we know the arbitration is coming and by this time next week, everyone should hopefully know a decision.
PH: As an objective hockey blogger, do you think the NHL did the right thing by rejecting the contract? Why or why not?
CW: With the precedent set, the league dropped the ball so often that they knew they had to do something. However, something tells me based on how Jeff Vanderbeek is reacting, he knows a little bit more information than you or I do at this point. If you allow contracts like Luongo’s or Hossa’s, you have to allow ones like Kovalchuk’s. Do not change the rules until the next CBA. The NHL has some grounds to call for circumvention but New Jersey holds some pretty good precedent. Not to mention, speculation suggests a Kings rep may be asked to testify. It makes you wonder what the Kings offered Kovalchuk. My honest opinion, the league picked the wrong battle.
PH: What do Kovalchuk, the Devils and the league need to do to get this sorted out as quickly as possible? How realistic is that that will happen?
CW: Extremely realistic. By next weekend, there should be a decision one way or the other and since all the dominoes are beginning to fall, expect more to come crashing over when the contract is either upheld or the Devils just tweak it a bit to make the league happy. The arbiter can restructure the contract and honor it. Keep that in mind.
PH: When this saga ends, where do you think Kovalchuk will wind up? Why?
CW: New Jersey. There is really nowhere else Kovlachuk can go now and save face. Once you have the press conference, you have to sleep in the bed you made. Even if that bed is a bit used already, Kovalchuk knows going anywhere else is almost career suicide.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.