A stunning story by Larry Brooks of the New York Post offers a chilling explanation of why the NHL took two extra days to rule on the validity of Ilya Kovalchuk’s second contract with the New Jersey Devils—and suggests bigger conflicts are on the horizon.
Brooks cites a “well-placed source” in saying the NHL attached conditions to its acceptance of Kovalchuk’s contract. If those conditions are not accepted by Friday the league will reject Kovalchuk’s deal and the 12-year contract between the Vancouver Canucks and goaltender Roberto Luongo and will formally investigate the 12-year contract Chicago gave to Marian Hossa.
Luongo’s contract is scheduled to start this season, but Hossa has played one season under his deal. If the league decides that contract should be voided, does that mean the Blackhawks played with an ineligible player last season and could be forced to forfeit their Stanley Cup championship?
That sounds extreme. But if Brooks is right—and he’s a veteran reporter who has broken many stories over the years—almost anything could be in play now that the NHL has decided to reject the salary-cap-circumventing contracts it had been approving and attempt to rewrite the collective bargaining agreement two years before its scheduled completion
Relations between the league and the NHL Players’ Assn., which is being advised by former Major League Baseball union boss Donald Fehr but hasn’t formally appointed him its leader, have been chilly for a while. This is an outright declaration of hostility on the league’s part and increases the likelihood of a labor war after the current agreement expires in September 2012.