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NHL, players union reportedly agree on arbitrator in Ilya Kovalchuk case

July 30, 2010 |  7:53 pm

Could a decision on Ilya Kovalchuk's controversial contract with the New Jersey Devils come by the end of the week?

A report on the Canadian sports website TSN.ca and an earlier one by Tom Gulitti on NorthJersey.com quoted unnamed sources as saying the NHL and the NHL Players’ Assn. have agreed on the independent arbitrator who will rule on whether the $102-million contract should be allowed under the collective bargaining agreement.

No details were given in either story, but the TSN report also was posted on the NHL's website Friday night. Gulitti is the Devils beat reporter for the Bergen Record.

The league rejected Kovalchuk's contract, saying the front-loaded deal, which stretches over 17 years, was designed to circumvent the CBA and the salary cap. The NHLPA filed a grievance Monday.

Once the hearing concludes, the arbitrator will rule within 48 hours, either upholding the NHL's rejection or deciding that the contract is valid.

And as The Times' Helene Elliott has pointed out, should the NHL win the case, the high-scoring winger will be an unrestricted free agent (again) who the Kings hope to pursue (again).

-- Debbie Goffa

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