The Ilya Kovalchuk debacle has been going on all damn summer and today the NHL and NHLPA agreed to extend the deadline to make an approval or rejection of the Devils' 15 year/$100 million contract with Kovalchuk until Friday at 5pm EST.
If you follow me on Twitter, you would've seen me go on a bit of a tirade about it with some furious tweeting and retweeting about why this whole dog and pony show is absolutely ridiculous. I decided to put up a post about it to be my wordier (and hopefully clearer) self. Here's why the NHL has screwed the pooch with this situation.
The Initial Contract Was Valid Within the Current CBA
Don't give me the bullshit about the ‘spirit' of the CBA either. You wrote the rules, some GM's found a loophole and exploited it to gain an advantage over the rest of the league. Them's the breaks, kid. It followed the rules about how much a contract can drop year-by-year, and there's currently no term/age restrictions for the standard player contract. If you allow Pronger, Hossa, Luongo and Savard to all sign those contracts; you MUST allow the signing on Kovalchuk's contract based on past precedence. Is it a contract Kovalchuk planned on reaching the end of? Hell no. I'm pretty sure the same can be said about the other previously approved contracts as well. But if there are loopholes that a criminal can take advantage to get off on a technicality, why can't NHL GM's use the same technique?
The Second Contract Was Valid Within the Current CBA
Kovalchuk, an All-World Player, Is Stuck In Purgatory
While the NHL & NHLPA play with each other and basically do an ad-hoc negotiation of limits/rules on a standard player contract, Kovalchuk is left wondering what he should be doing. Should he still look for a home in New Jersey? Should he move in and pay rent to Marty Brodeur? Will he be in Jersey at all or for the rest of his career? His family is stuck with him in purgatory as well.
Kovalchuk isn't Wayne Gretzky, but he is an all-world offensive player and you're playing with his career instead of embracing him as a superstar player moving into a good hockey market. I'm not saying that because Kovalchuk is a great player, he should be allowed to do whatever he chooses, but the rules allow what the Devils are trying to do.
The NHLPA is Letting One Organization Work on the Term Limits for the Next CBA
Basically what is happening is that the NHL & NHLPA are working together with the Devils & Jay Grossman to find a contract that works for Ilya and it will establish the some new limits for standard player contracts. Instead of allowing the whole of the NHL, NHLPA, Owners & GM's work together to find an acceptable agreement, it's the NHL, NHLPA, the Devils & Kovalchuk's camp.
In addition to that, the NHLPA doesn't have a leader at the moment. Who's to say that the NHL is pushing this negotiation to happen now while the NHLPA is much weaker than it would be in 2012? This way the NHL can force the limits to be as close to the magical numbers they have in mind as possible.
It is just straight up unfair to the rest of the league.
What Good is a Deadline to the NHL?
The NHL clearly didn't give two shits about the five day rule for a decision on the contract because they'd rather negotiate the limits on a standard player contract now instead of in 2012. What happens if they cannot come to an agreement before training camp? Or before the preseason starts? Or before the regular season starts? How long do you expect Kovalchuk to wait to play professional hockey. If previous negotiations between the NHL & NHLPA are any indication, Kovalchuk may not have a signed, accepted & registered contract for months. Let the guy play hockey.
So that's my rant kids. What do you think? Is this an affront to Kovy? Is the league pushing to establish these limits while the NHLPA is leader-less? Sound off in the comments.