First, the article from nbcsports.

If you’ve been wondering what the deal is with Ilya Kovalchuk and the New Jersey Devils is The Ilya Kovalchuk soap opera has taken a stunning turn of events today. Yahoo’s Dmitry Chesnokov has the details.

For Ilya Kovalchuk(notes), his representatives, the New Jersey Devils and the NHL, time is running out. Weeks after Kovalchuk’s 17-year, $102 million contract was rejected by the NHL, a difficult decision for the free-agent winger could come in the next 24-48 hours.

Sources close to Kovalchuk have told us that if the NHL does not approve any of the proposals submitted informally by the Devils, Kovalchuk may decide to play in the KHL next season.

This just about fries it for me as far as how things go for the NHL on this matter. We outlined what was going on with this nonsense the last two days when word came out both about the NHL pooh-poohing more contract framework and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman tap-dancing around questions about that happening. The point now is that the league has left Lou Lamoriello, Jay Grossman and Ilya Kovalchuk wandering around aimlessly trying to lock down a deal that works for everyone without having a blueprint to follow. Sure they could try to model things after Vincent Lecavalier’s 11-year contract, but who’s to say that 11 years is going to be too long to appease Commissioner Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly?

The NHL prides itself on being the home to the greatest hockey talent in the world and while the KHL pales in comparison both in talent level and in league stability, it remains the main option for anyone looking to continue playing professionally that can’t get a job in the NHL. Losing a star like Kovalchuk to the KHL over a squabble like this one, seemingly made to prove a point to other teams as well as agents and the NHLPA is insanity at its highest. With Kovalchuk setting this deadline to get a deal done, he’s making sure he at least has somewhere to play. The KHL season begins on September 8th.

via Report: Kovalchuk sets deadline to be signed or else KHL option becomes real – ProHockeyTalk – Hockey – NBC Sports.

Now, a deep breath…calm…I have read some flippant analysis in the hockey world but Joe Yerdon may have climbed into the top 10 with this one. Here is a dose of common sense Joe:

1. The NHL has done everything right. Lest you forget that an independent arbitrator agreed to by the NHLPA sided with the league on that offensively cap circumventing abortion of a contract.

2. You have no idea what has been presented to the league since then. We do know this. No contract has been presented and none has been rejected. Thus, before you surmise without the benefit of anything other than speculation what actually has been given to the league in the “conceptual” sense, save the intelligent and non-reactionary readers the nonsense that the NHL needs to start rushing to fix this before Kovalchuk leaves. There is such a thing as integrity and if Grossman and Lamoriello cannot devise a contract that they have confidence will abide by the CBA, such a shortcoming is not reflective of Bettman or the league. The league must have the integrity of not making exceptions to the agreed upon contractually binding rules of its collective bargaining agreement because this or that player may bolt for Russia.

3. Ask yourself a simple question: Why hasn’t Kovalchuk signed yet? The answer has nothing to do with the NHL. It is because Grossman and Lamoriello are too far apart. This is just about the money and despite Grossman’s disingenious proclamations to the contrary, it has always only been about the money and will only be about same. You want to point a finger at the cause of Kovalchuk’s departure. Point it at a wealthy agent in Jay Grossman who likely badly miscalculated the market and perhaps persuaded his client to turn down a $100 million dollar Thrashers offer because he may have thought he could get more this offseason from a better team. You think that extra $2 million in the rejected $102 million dollar deal doesn’t have significance? It is symbolic of the mindset that entered these negotiations and one that still exists today. However, none of this is the NHL’s concern. Grossman set unreasonable expectations? Kovalchuk wants more money than any team can afford to pay him? Let fault, if there has to be any assigned, fall squarely at the two antagonists’ feet in this story.

4. What does it tell you about a player who is willing to bolt to the KHL if he doesn’t get the money he wants? I won’t even answer this for you. Just ask yourself that question and come up with an unemotional answer.

5. Losing Kovalchuk will mean nothing. He toiled in obscurity for years in Atlanta. He wishes to toil away in Russia, so be it. It’s his choice. Not the league’s. You want to see the league make exceptions to the CBA for its stars? That type of corrupt behavior will only cause the NHL to lose credibility and place it near the same level as puppet leagues such as the KHL. If you want that for us, then you are no fan of the NHL and certainly know less about the sport than anyone who calls themselves a hockey writer should.

Categories: L.A. Kings News


15 replies

  1. I agree with everything.

    I’m tired of people blaming the NHL and Bettman for Kovalchuk not being signed. That article is one of the worst out there.

    If Kovalchuk wants Ovechkin money, then NJ needs an Ovechkin cap hit. Last time I checked, Ovechkin’s cap hit is over $9 million. No where near $6 million.

    Even Vincent’s cap hit is close to $8 million.

    Why doesn’t NJ just offer $102/13 and end it? Oh yeah, that doesn’t circumvent the CBA enough for Lou to want Kovalchuk.

  2. There are plenty of other players who have not had this kind of problem with the league. I feel no pity for Kovalchuk or for Lamoriello.

    Lou knew the risks in trading for Kovi that he might be a one year rental. Kovalchuk knew the risks that he might not get more than the $100 million that Atlanta was willing to give him.

    I also don’t buy the talk about Grossman manipulating Kovalchuk to his detriment. Kovalchuk is a big boy. If the rest of us Americans can live with the fact that our homes are no longer worth what we paid for them and have to live with it, I think Kovalchuk can live with a few million less because he and his agent overestimated the market.

    I’m so over this guy, and I’m glad he’s not going to be a King.

  3. Well said! This is getting ridiculous because the asking price is ridiculous!! $100mil+? Get real Kovi.

  4. My name much?


  5. Wow. How much is the nhl paying you to write this propaganda?

  6. This dumb shit has written a painfully stupid article. If any NHL player wants to go to the KHL just becuase the money is better, well f*** you and the horse you rode in on. This is a second class league, no doubt riddled with corruption, payoffs and probably lack of long term stability.

    As you say, very few people really knew who this guy was until he came out of the woodwork leaving at Atlanta. His abscence will be imperceptible. Also, the idea that because this greedy prick doesn’t get every dime he wants, this is some type of “sad statement” about the NHL is rediculous . Please, I’m gonna puke.

    Ironically, if Kovalchuk does leave for the KHL, I would argue the contrary, that this makes the league even stronger. The NHL has stuck to its principles. While I do not endorse the idea of forced parity, lesser financial disparity betwen the superstar and the nonsuperstar as a whole is better for the players.

    I hope there are only a small proportion of fans that believe the untenable bullshit in this stupid article. I’ll pass on the Kool Aid.

  7. Just because there wasn’t a contract was submitted doesn’t mean lou didn’t run some numbers by bettman. I’m sure there was a 13-15 yr deals at 91 mil. structured very closely to a hossa type contract. And it seems kind of obvious that Bettman rejected these type of deals, which leaves the devils and the rest of the NHL what exactly the new standard for what long term contracts should be. The NHL is basically picking and choosing its battles at this point. Example A) Apparently proper “cap management” is loaning a player to a foreign team to get rid of his cap hit. The NHL really needs to get there act together and get more consistent with what they choose to fight at this point.

  8. Rain the truth down Mr. Scribe.

  9. To Rob:
    YES, “Example A) Apparently proper “cap management” is loaning a player to a foreign team to get rid of his cap hit.”
    That is exactly proper cap management. No different than any other team that drops a player down to the AHL when they are not performing up to their NHL paycheck. Or do you think that the AHL should be dissolved and every team HAS to play every player, no matter what?

  10. I would suggest to Mr. Kovalchuk that he not let the door hit him in the a$$ on his way out of the NHL. And I would also suggest to the other clients of Jay Grossman, that they take some time this morning to draw up letters terminating his services, because he has lost too much credibility for orchestrating this fiasco. Kovalchuk would have had his $100 million dollar dream with the Thrashers, who in case he hasn’t been paying attention, are much improved going into this season, but he let Grossman talk him out of it. This proves that it was never about the hockey, but always about the money, and some petty little dick measuring contest that he seems to have with Ovechkin. At least Ovechkin went to a struggling franchise and played his heart out, and helped them become a contender. Kovalchuk can only be bothered to attempt to pad his numbers, and isn’t half the hockey player that Ovechkin is. His presence on the Russian team didn’t help them much this past Olympics. Let him go to the KHL, where the money that he was originally getting offered has fallen back as well. Let him dress in those crappy little lockerrooms to play in tiny, crappy little local rinks, in front of small crowds. No one here is going to miss him.

  11. The leauge is not being draconian by not allowing manipulation of the CBA. I’ll concede that they (or Betman) should have had the same heavy handed approach with Hossa and maybe some of the others. They (esp. their lawyers) should have been astute enough to anticipate that teams might try these antics to wrestle against the limitations of the cap (make unrealistically long contracts to minimize the yearly cap hit for higher end players).

    But nontheless an agreement is there and has to be followed. Professional sports, or any other business enterprise for that matter) cannot function if rules are broken and manipulated. In this context I find the bravado that Kovalchuk and his asshole agent are showing are offensive.

    What we as hockey fans should be concerned about is the potential for work stoppage with the next CBA. I am hoping that the average NHL player who will never see Kovalchuk money will at least silently agree with what I said above. What I don’t know is how the CBA could be reworked to prevent the necessity for a garage sale like the Blackhawks with a Rolls Royce (Hossa) in the driveway and also suppress Kovalchuk/Grossman antics…

  12. An update to our readers: It appears the 24-48 hour window has again been confirmed and Kovalchuk’s decision to go to the KHL is upon us. If this happens, emphasis IF, it may be one of the most significant self destructive measures I have seen an NHL player take. Ilya will not only paint himself as a prima donna (on the level of Eric Lindros) but may also seriously hurt his reputation among his Russian colleagues. I cannot imagine star Russian players in the NHL and those working to become NHL players will look at this as anything other than a spoiled brat of a child who took his marbles and went home

  13. While I am with you Bobby in Kovalchuk and Grossman’s culpability here, without letting any emotion get in the way, it would be a shame to lose Kovalchuk to the KHL. If he so chooses to go that snowy route, the onus is squarely on his own head and not the NHL’s. However, the NHL still takes a bit of a hit in my mind if that is the result. Deserved or not, so-called “casuals” will only see that they let a superstar get away. Kovalchuk has put the NHL in a no-win situation, and himself as well. It is Kovalchuk/Grossman’s fault for overestimating his value and be unwilling to compromise, but that doesn’t let the NHL get away without a few wounds to lick. There are so many aspects and ramifications to this scenario, the fan reaction, the NHL vs. NHLPA vs. Owners tension, posturing for the upcoming round of CBA negotiations, future player contracts, etc. The only situation in which anyone involved can really win is if Kovalchuk budges on his price and everyone wins.


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