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The Rock, NJ • United States • 35 Years Old • Male
Source NYpost

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.
NO SYMPATHY FOR DEVILS: Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract with the Devils meets every legal standard of the CBA, but commissioner Gary Bettman has now shifted the burden of proof to the teams, says Post columnist Larry Brooks.

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.

This case isn't about big market vs. small market, not with the Devils ranking between 13th and 16th in league revenues, though that's the umbrella under which the commissioner fights every battle. This one is simply about Bettman stamping his feet in a temper tantrum and using his power to force a moribund NHLPA to gear up and fight a fight it may or may not be prepared to wage.

By refusing to register the contract, the burden has shifted ever so subtly from the league having to prove circumvention -- by who, exactly: Kovalchuk? Agent Jay Grossman? Lamoriello? Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek? -- to the Players' Association now having to prove there was no such illicit behavior.

Understand. This is a nothing-to-lose move from Sixth Avenue. If the league should somehow win a flawed decision -- the Alexei Yashin case is a prime example of an arbitrator producing a decision at odds with all evidence and precedents -- it not only will stop the practice, the NHL will have license to file circumvention charges under Article 26 of the CBA against Detroit, Chicago and Vancouver for the similar contracts awarded to Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Marian Hossa and Roberto Luongo.

If the league should lose, well, it's not as if the floodgates will open over the next season with teams throwing tens of millions in front-loaded deals at their franchise players.

The players, as an entity, might want to pay attention to this throwing down of the gauntlet by Bettman two years in advance of the next round of collective bargaining. They sure weren't paying attention last week when, we're told, no more than 10 players showed up for the union's meeting in Los Angeles.

They might want to pay attention to the need for strong leadership and stop listening to those on the periphery, and that includes agents with their own agendas, who want the executive director to live in a state of appeasement.

Several well-placed sources within the last three days have told Slap Shots that is becoming less and less likely Donald Fehr will assume a position at or near the top of the NHLPA masthead when the search committee recommends a candidate to fill the position of executive director.

Fehr remains an advisor who has consulted with the PA regarding Kovalchuk, but questions have arisen regarding his involvement in last summer's messy firing of Paul Kelly.
NO SYMPATHY FOR DEVILS: Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract with the Devils meets every legal standard of the CBA, but commissioner Gary Bettman has now shifted the burden of proof to the teams, says Post columnist Larry Brooks.
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NO SYMPATHY FOR DEVILS: Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract with the Devils meets every legal standard of the CBA, but commissioner Gary Bettman has now shifted the burden of proof to the teams, says Post columnist Larry Brooks.

The players, though, had better be sure of the motives of those agitating to investigate Fehr, who was consulted at some point by some of the conspirators who have since left the union.

Unless it can be found that Fehr was involved in a scheme to oust Kelly so that he could take charge himself -- an absurd charge, by the way -- the PA should stop wasting more time on yet another distraction and get down to the business of hiring someone with clout and prestige to represent them in the face of what will surely become another full frontal collective bargaining assault.

The Players' Association cannot simply disqualify anyone with any ties to past administrations. Those who clamor for such actions must be viewed with suspicion.

Oh, to Steve Bartlett, an agent who was quoted at length the other day about how the Kovalchuk contract is bad for the union because it diminished "flexibility" and deflates the market" -- get a clue.

For while it's true that front-loaded contracts increase escrow, it increases flexibility by leaving money in the system and space under the cap for those signing clubs to add salaries and players. Any large contract adds to escrow. The hard cap pits the individual against the collective. If Bartlett is consumed by the escrow issue, his clients should accept every QO, never file for salary arbitration and take the first offer from teams on every occasion.

The NHL hard-cap CBA doesn't necessarily discriminate against big-market clubs, it discriminates against successful clubs. The Devils aren't good because they have a high payroll, they have a high payroll because they've been a standard of excellence since the early '90s. The same applies to franchises like Detroit and Philadelphia, teams with ownerships that desperately want to win.

Successful teams and general managers have a choice. They can shrug their shoulders and allow the CBA to break up their rosters. Or they can act creatively within the confines of the CBA to keep their teams intact as much as possible.

The Devils and Lamoriello chose the latter route with Kovalchuk, whom the GM quite clearly has defined as his franchise player. That caused Bettman to stamp his feet.

It's personal with the commissioner, just like 2004-05 was personal, just like the next round of talks will be personal. Players are advised to take notice, and maybe even attend a meeting or two, for while this is happening to Kovalchuk now, the league will be coming after all of them in two years.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/s...u0780RP4I/1#ixzz0ujU6x500
Filed Under:   kovalchuck   new jersey devils  
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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?????