Home HockeyBuzz Register Login
The Rock, NJ • United States • 35 Years Old • Male
Source NJ.com

His critics have sometimes called him "Loophole Lou," but Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello may have lost that nickname now that the NHL has rejected the team's 17-year, $102 million contract with Ilya Kovalchuk.

Lamoriello's biggest mid-summer problems should have been his efforts to complete a trade or two in order to shed some salary, thereby enabling Kovalchuk's mega deal to fit under the team's $59.4 salary cap. Now, he has more headaches because the league believes the Devils stretched Kovalchuk's contract over 17 years solely to "circumvent the cap."

Well, they did. Lamoriello suggested as much during Tuesday's press conference at the Prudential Center. But he thought it was being done legally. Devils management was certain the NHL would offer a "tsk... tsk" and then rubber stamp the contract as it has with other long-term deals in the past.

That did not happen.

A person familiar with the review of Kovalchuk's contract who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss the matter, told The Star-Ledger today the NHL "has never-- in the history of the League-- seen a 17-year deal. We've never approved (a) contract that takes (a) player to age 44. And we've never approved anything as dramatically front-loaded as this contract is."

The Devils celebrated their signing of Kovalchuk with Tuesday's gathering of management, players and others. Now it's all a little embarrassing and the whole situation is overflowing with irony.

First, like many NHL general managers, Lamoriello cannot keep track of all the legal aspects of the current collective bargaining agreement. So he hired Steve Pellegrini to serve as the club's salary cap expert. And Pellegrini is, indeed, an expert since he dealt with the cap while working for the league.

This is also a contract Lamoriello probably would not have done on his own. He surely would've offered less money for fewer years, informing the player and agent that it is a privilege to play for the Devils. But owners Jeff Vanderbeek and Mike Gilfillan have had enough of waiting for another Stanley Cup, struggling to fill the Prudential Center and being an afterthought in the metropolitan hockey market. So they told Lamoriello to spend the money and gave him a little push to do so.

Why did the league reject this contract when other deals with Roberto Luongo, Chris Pronger and Marian Hossa have been approved? They doubt Kovalchuk will fulfill the final years of the contract in which he'd be earning a paltry $550,000.

Kovalchuk would be 44 years old when the contract ends in 2026-027. Others have played at or beyond that age. Chris Chelios was 48 last season and Igor Larionov played for the Devils in 2003-04 past his 43rd birthday.

Although players are capable of playing well into their 40s because of training, diet and other factors, there is less incentive because most of them are wealthy enough to walk away. They don't need the money. By the time Kovalchuk got to the final years of this contract, he'd already have made in the neighborhood of $150 million in his NHL career.

Two more interesting aspects of the rejection:

Lamoriello's own words in which he stated he "might agree" loopholes like this are what is wrong with the CBA could be used against him if the NHL Players' Association files a grievance on behalf of Kovalchuk and an arbitrator makes a ruling.

And, finally, Lamoriello has been known to be a tiger representing the Devils in arbitration cases against players. If a grievance is indeed filed, Lamoriello and the Devils would be hoping for the NHLPA to fight for them.

At this point, the Devils could rework the contract and resubmit it to the league for approval. They might move lower annual salaries into the middle of the contract. Or, in an effort to keep this deal, the NHLPA could file a grievance within five days and put it in the hands of an arbitrator.

If the arbitrator ruled against the contract, Kovalchuk would immediately become an unrestricted free agent once again.

The current CBA expires in September of 2012. Rest assured contracts like this will be a primary topic in upcoming negotiations.

* * *

At 6:29 a.m. today, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly released the following statement about the rejection of Kovalchuk's contract on the league's website:

"The contract has been rejected by the League as a circumvention of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Under the CBA, the contract rejection triggers a number of possible next steps that may be elected by any or each of the NHLPA, the Player and/or the Club. In the interim, the player is not entitled to play under the contract, nor is he entitled to any of the rights and benefits that are provided for thereunder. The League will have no further comment on this matter pending further developments."
Filed Under:   New Jersey   Kovalchuck  
Leave a Comment
You must be logged in to leave a comment.

Blog Archive

10 On Kovi free agency
12 WOW The Devils Make A Great Move!!!!
12 John MacLean is hands on as Devils open prospects camp
12 Is Ilya Kovalchuk moving closer to signing with Los Angeles?
13 Has Kovalchuck lost his footing with New Jersey Devils Fans?
13 Elias understands Kovalchuk's dilemma
14 Elias excited for what future holds
15 Lots of talk but nothing to announce yet on Kovalchuk
15 Kovalchuk Looking Less and Less Likely for New Jersey Devils
15 Kovalchuk desperately wants to be the highest paid Russian!!
15 Devils don't offer veteran center Eric Chouinard a contract
15 Anton Volchenkov: Devils were my second choice
15 MacLean meets the A-Train
16 Are Ilya Kovalchuk's salary demands tied to Alex Ovechkin?
16 Newly-signed Tyler Eckford wants to play his way into a job
16 Devils' World Won't End if Kovy Bypasses Newark
18 Kings believed they had a 50-50 chance of signing Kovinuts
19 Brian Rolston knows that changes are coming for Devils
19 Devils' signing of Ilya Kovalchuk puts a smile on John Mac!!
19 Dainius Zubrus: signing Ilya Kovalchuk was to shake up the Devils
19 What might happen next?????
20 Who Will Go???
20 Which Contracts Will Lou Dump Now?
20 Left winger Ilya Kovalchuk, there is significance to #17
21 Once Kovalchuk's deal is settled, attention to Zach!!!
21 NHL doesn't believe Ilya Kovalchuk will stay untill Age 44
21 contracts similar to Ilya Kovalchuk's deal with Devils
21 NHL Players' Assocation issues statement On Kovi
21 Lamoriello statement on Kovalchuk signing
21 ’t win Ilya Kovalchuk contract showdown
22 It's in hands of Ilya Kovalchuk and union
22 NHL might have picked wrong fight
22 LA Kings Dean Lombardi backs up Kovalchuck Contract
24 NHLPA to file grievance
25 The Kovi Saga
25 NHL prosecution merely a temper tantrum
26 Devils wait for players' union to file grievance
26 contract could trigger a war between Devils and NHL
27 Decision on Kovalchuk is expected nexty week
28 Kovalchuk contract could be restructured by arbitrator
28 Yann Danis Going to KHL
28 Mark Fraser Signed....
29 Newly-signed Mark Fraser vows to be 'mean, physical Player
30 Arbitrator has been agreed upon
30 Kovalchuck Hearing?????
31 Arbitrator - Richard Bloch a NEw Jersey Native
31 Association agree on arbitrator to rule on Ilya Kovalchuk
03 Kovalchuk will attend contract hearing
03 Devils will wear retro jerseys March 18 vs. Washington
04 D day for Kovi and the Devils
05 Roller Hockey at the Jersey Shore
06 Jim Dowd Shore High School Hockey Game set for Sunday
06 Is this is a set-up between Lou and Gary???
09 The arbitration decision coming today
11 Translated article from soviet sports kovalchuck
11 Devils name Rick Kowalsky head coach at Albany
12 HEATS ON!!!!
12 Where do the Devils stand in the market???
16 Today might be the day
16 90 million over 10-13 for kovi?
16 Russian News Paper Reports Devs and Kovi....
17 Contract submitted???
18 Another Quiet day in the Kovi Front
19 Devils still waiting to see what happens with Kovy
19 “Status Quo” On Ilya Kovalchuk And Devils
20 Devils After Marc-Andre Bergeron???
20 Kovi wants nothing to do with the KHL
20 Elias on the Move???
21 Questions Surround Devils in Wake of Kovalchuck saga
22 Brian Burke Testified Against Ilya Kovalchuk Contract???
22 Devils Bringing Hockey Back To Atlantic City
23 Patrik Elias could be moved to sign fellow winger Zach Paris
23 Today could be the Day!!!
23 News 1130 out of Vancouver Reports on Kovi
23 Possible contract for Kovalchuck
23 Devils add more youth to the roster
23 EJHradek_ESPN Reports NJ Devils meet with the NHL
24 News 12 New Jersey Reports on Kovi Contract...
24 Bryce Salvador to Stars...
25 NHL 2 Devils 0.....
25 Lamoriello not frustrated by Kovalchuk process
25 Commish denies report of deal rejection
26 – NYPOST.com
26 Looks Like KHL is out of the question
27 Could this be finalyy over???
30 Devils could part with Zajac if Kovalchuk stays
30 ’ contract, but Kovalchuk retires
31 ’s official decision on Kovalchuk’s TODAY!!!!!
31 Niemi a Devil?????