Still no official word from NHL, NHLPA on Ilya Kovalchuk's new contract
The NHL and the NHL Players Assn. extended Friday's 2 p.m. PT deadline four times but as of 8:30 p.m. PDT there was still no official word that Ilya Kovalchuk's reformulated 15-year, $100-million contract with the New Jersey Devils had been approved.
The two sides reportedly reached a decision in Kovalchuk's favor, but only after agreeing on an amendment to the collective bargaining agreement covering long-term contracts. It was believed to be the wording of that amendment that forced the extensions.
It was five weeks ago that the league rejected the Russian winger's landmark 17-year, $102-million deal, saying it circumvented salary cap rules. The union filed a grievance but an arbiter ruled that the league was correct, forcing the Devils to restructure the contract.
The CBA amendment would mean that front-loaded, long-term deals such as the ones signed by Roberto Luongo, Marian Hossa and Marc Savard, among others, would be the last of their kind.
Earlier in the day, Tom Gulitti of the Bergen County Record, quoting unnamed sources, reported in his Fire and Ice blog that the new guidelines include stipulations about how the salary cap hit would be calculated for long-term deals that go beyond the age of 35 and the age of 40. TSN, the Canadian sports network, also reported the details, but there was no word from the NHL.
This saga began when Kovalchuk, 27, became an unrestricted free agent July 1. The two-time 52-goal scorer will be 42 when his restructured contract expires.
Stay tuned to latimes.com/sports, where The Times' Helene Elliott will weigh in with the result.
-- Debbie Goffa