09/03/2010 at 10:40am EDT
When the NHL rejected the original Ilya Kovalchuk deal, clearly more was at stake than a talented UFA left winger.
Numerous media members labeled this a serious test for the then—and probably still—rudderless NHLPA. That ugly seven-letter word ending in “out” started to appear again.
Part of the League’s motives were revealed when Arbitrator Richard Bloch named other contracts on the league’s radar.
Now, with the Larry Brooks story last night, it’s clear this isn’t as much about a contract as it is about the NHL taking the power back.
It’s not such a bad deal, honestly. If the NHLPA decides to make a few concessions to let the Kovalchuk, Luongo and Hossa deals stand, they aren’t giving up much that they wouldn’t soon have to anyway.
But is this really a proper way for the NHL to achieve its goals?
Couldn’t new rules about long-term deals have waited until the next CBA was drafted, or would that have given the Player’s Association too much time to get healthy again? Wouldn’t the PA be giving up a sizable bargaining chip for those same talks by agreeing to this ultimatum?
In any case, the ramifications one way or the other are intriguing.
I was talking to a friend last night—a fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins—who wondered, at least half seriously, about the ‘what ifs’ that would follow if the NHLPA doesn’t want to give any ground.
The Penguins still need that first line wing. No one played the part better than Marian Hossa. Would Ray Shero give it another go?
Where else could those three land if thrown back into the waters of free agency?
How does a first line with Hossa and Kovalchuk sound somewhere like Long Island? Well, it probably sounds insane, but things could get a little crazy depending on what happens Friday when this mess is sorted out.
It is, after all, about more than just a contract.