So, the NHL shot down the Ilya Kovalchuk deal. Good on them. They probably have a fight on their hands but the bar has been set. We'll see how this plays out.
For the record, I believe in a free market system. Go for what you feel you are worth. If someone is willing to pay the tab, take their money. However, I must admit I have grown tired of the "business" of professional sports. I love a great hockey game. I love to lounge around on a Sunday and take in an NFL game. Life is never better. The leagues have cashed in on the growing "business" of sports over the years and the players have benefited beyond an average person's wildest dreams. Gone are the days of millionaire owners taking advantage of underpaid athletes. It is now Billionaires Vs. Millionaires. There is obviously enough money to go around for everyone. Now it is all about greed. I believe owners who take a risk deserve the reward. I believe athletes deserve to be paid accordingly. However, I strongly believe costs need to be managed. Not just for owners, but for the millions of fans who deserve to watch a game without having to take out a second mortgage on their homes.
Which leads me back to the Kovalchuk scenario. Anyone with half a brain knows this is 12 year deal. After making an average of $10 million a year for 10 years where will Kovalchuk find the inspiration to get up every morning and work another 5 years for a paltry $500,000 per. And from the age of 39. It's just not going to happen. Funny, I could easily direct you to 5 families who will happily split the final 5 years of that contract and pay off their 25 year mortgages.
So the Devils have tried to creatively lower their cap hit and give Ilya the cash he desires. I have a big problem with this. Especially since Lou Lamoriello was apparently so instrumental in writing the current CBA. It's a lose lose situation for everyone and sets the whole league up for a failure.
Examine the possible outcomes:
1. It goes to arbitration and the deal is pushed through. Now other star players will use this as a precedent and seek out similar deals. It is a monkey see monkey do league after all. Other players will try this as well without success. The NHLPA will will ultimately deem the system as unbeneficial for its players and look to challenge the salary cap when the current CBA ends. Owners who lost a season to get a cap will not budge. The result: A possible work stoppage.
2. After an arbitration hearing the deal is officially shot down. Now the NHLPA has even more fuel for the next round of collective bargaining. The cap system is artificially preventing it's players from negotiating a deal in a fair market system. Here again the cap works for the owners and not the players. The result: A possible work stoppage.
3. The Ilya Kovalchuk camp negotiates a new deal for less money or goes to the KHL. One of the game's biggest stars has to compromise his future in a restrictive cap system. What would Donald Fehr say about this? Need I repeat myself?
This creative deal has opened up a can of worms for the NHL. No matter which way it resolves itself. Kovalchuk priced himself outside of the current economic system in the NHL. And one of management's brightest minds has decided to test a system, that he himself helped put in place, furthering the player's cause. This can't be good for anyone.