Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
The arbitration hearing that will determine the immediate and potential long-term future of star left wing Ilya Kovalchuk has wrapped up in Boston and now the hockey world, specifically Kovalchuk, the New Jersey Devils and the NHL, wait for arbitrator Richard Bloch to render a decision on the matter.
Bloch has until the end of business Monday to rule on whether the NHL was justified in rejecting the 17-year, $102 million contract Kovalchuk signed with the Devils last month. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly stated at the time the NHL rejected the contract that it was doing so because the deal circumvents the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
added 3:20pm, via Tom Gulitti tweet,
I’m told don’t expect the Kovalchuk ruling before Monday.
from Mark Everson of the NY Post,
If, as expected, arbitrator Richard Bloch rules in favor of Kovalchuk, perhaps as late as Monday, his contract will be immediately validated. But then the Devils will have to find a way to shed some $5-6 million in salary-cap liability by season’s start to get under the $59.4 million lid and still have wiggle room for injuries.
Vital players would have to go, perhaps among Bryce Salvador, Colin White and Dainius Zubrus, either by trade or waiver/demotion.
Most important, such a verdict would validate heavily front-loaded contracts that the NHL claim circumvent the CBA, and become a major NHL demand for the next pact.
Should Bloch back the NHL and find that the contract is indeed an end-run around the CBA, Kovalchuk would again become an unrestricted free agent, and teams like the Kings and Rangers, as well as the Devils, would again be able to bid for his services in a more straight-forward salary arrangement.
Although it appears unlikely, the NHL then also would have the option of initiating its own punitive action against Kovalchuk and the Devils. A circumvention ruling off a league-filed action could cost the Devils $1.5 million in fines, with a similar amount deducted from their cap limit. Kovalchuk himself could be liable to a fine of $250,000-$1 million.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
The NHL’s effort to disallow front-loaded, long- terms deals that are permitted by the collective bargaining agreement through arbitration is an attempt to legislate from the bench.
Commissioner Gary Bettman and the league are using this circumvention case against Ilya Kovalchuk and the Devils to try and gain the right to inflict arbitrary term-limits on contracts through the finding of an arbitrator after failing to gain that power through the 2004-05 collective bargaining process that created the current CBA.
“They absolutely tried to get the right to limit contract length,” one of the NHLPA’s prime negotiators into and throughout the lockout told Slap Shots. “It was another cap they wanted to impose, but we were able to win that one.”...
The preparation work is getting ready for the 90 minutes each side has to make their case in front of the arbitrator. Comparables of similar NHL players are used as measuring sticks; with the contracts those players have signed used as a major point of discussion. If the player elected arbitration, his side goes first. If the club elected arbitration, its side goes first. Both sides plead their direct case and, after a short recess, rebuttals by both sides are then made and the arbitrator has the material he/she needs to make his or her decision, which must be made within a 48-hour window following the hearing, as per terms of the NHLPA/NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement.
from Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice,
A source said this afternoon that a system arbitrator has been ageed upon by the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association to rule on the grievance over Ilya Kovalchuk’s rejected, 17-year, $102 million contract.
A hearing has been scheduled, but the source would not reveal the identity of the arbitrator or the date, time and site of the hearing. I will continue to try to find out those all important details.
The sides had to agree upon the site and date/time of the hearing as well and appear intent on keeping it low profile.
The source did say that the objective is for the matter to be settled by the end of next week, though. So, you can probably guess that the hearing will take place early next week—possibly Monday or Tuesday.
from Sean McIndoe (aka Down Goes Brown) at the National Post, .
..in an attempt to be as efficient as possible, the league has encouraged the NHLPA to consolidate all of their grievances into one single master list.
Well, that list was leaked to me this week. And the interest of keeping fans informed I’m publishing it here:
- Although we’ve made our feelings crystal clear on the matter over the years, there are still between 20 to 25 players at any given time who are being forced to play in Edmonton.
- Due to difficult economic times, Philadelphia Flyer fans are now pelting our wives and children with pennies and nickels, instead of the much lighter dimes they used to throw.
from Anthony J. SanFilippo of the Daily Times,
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has the ability to bring out the best of two emotions: he can make you laugh hysterically or infuriate you — usually at the same time….
The league has no leg to stand on with the Kovalchuk deal, yet denied it anyway. The Devils and the NHLPA feel they have a structured deal within the parameters set forth by the CBA, and they likely have. As such, they filed a grievance Monday.
The league knew that was coming and will likely lose the arbitration. But even if it wins, the whole reason it balked was to fire the first salvo in what promises to be another arduous contract battle with the NHLPA following the 2011-12 season.
It’s laughable because it’s so frivolous. It’s infuriating because it brings a black eye to a sport that has had far too many on Bettman’s watch.
“No one is going to be able to prove circumvention until one of these guys retires and by then we’ll be in a new CBA. But I’m comfortable that a number of these players are, in fact, going to walk.
“I don’t believe these players are going to play in their mid-40s. And I don’t believe they’re going to play for what they’re making in those final years. So it defies logic. It may not defy the CBA. But it defies logic to think that players are going to serve the term of all these contracts. So that’s why we don’t do them. And a number of teams don’t do them. If the league thinks that this is one that they need to look into, then we support that.”
-Brian Burke on what he calls “back-diving deals”. More from Michael Traikos of the National Post.
via the NHLPA,
“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.”
added 3:23pm, from Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice,
The NHL quickly responded with a statement from Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly.
“We have received formal notice that the NHLPA is grieving the league’s rejection of Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract with the New Jersey Devils,” Daly said in the statement. “Although there is no defined timetable at this point, we intend to work with the players’ association to ensure an expeditious resolution of this dispute. The league looks forward to the opportunity to establish its position before the arbitrator. We will have no further public comment pending completion of the process.”
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
First, know this about Gary Bettman and his capricious prosecution of circumvention against the Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk—it’s personal with the commissioner, the way it was personal when he and the Board of Governors canceled a season in order to get rid of Bob Goodenow.
It’s personal because Bettman had been telling NHL general managers for months to stop signing players to dramatically front-loaded lifetime contracts designed to massage the cap hit before New Jersey’s Lou Lamoriello, of all teams and of all people, simply defied the commissioner.
Bettman’s ill-advised quest to impose a one-size-fits-all cap onto 30 teams with varying needs and constituencies is in tatters. The Kovalchuk contract, which meets every legal standard outlined in the collective bargaining agreement, is merely the latest example of a powerful team acting creatively in order to keep as much of its personnel intact as possible.
added 9:14am, from Mark Everson of the NY Post,
The Devils might have five million reasons to worry about the Players Association’s expected filing for arbitration of Ilya Kovalchuk’s rejected contract.
A league source said the NHL is not threatening, but also not dismissing the possibility that the Devils might be liable for a fine of at least $1 million. The fine could go up to $5 million should an arbitrator finds that their $102 million, 17-year contract is indeed a circumvention of the collective bargaining agreement.
In addition, Kovalchuk himself conceivably could be liable to a fine between $250G and $1 million.
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