ULTIMATE BETTMAN

Blah blah, not much happened today.  The NHL was supposed to decide on Kovalchuk’s latest and greatest attempt at cap circumvention.  Extended deadline, yada yada.  More time?  What else is new?

An ultimatum.  That’s pretty new.

Not a choice, but a demand.

You’ve already read the NY Post article by now.

Kovalchuk, Luongo and Hossa get away with their mega bucks in bogus years, IF, in Laughable Larry Brooks’ words:

1. That the cap hit on future multi-year contracts will not count any seasons that end with the player over 40 years of age. The cap hit would be calculated on the average of the salary up through age 40 only.

2. That the cap hit on future contracts longer than five years will be calculated under a formula granting additional weight to the five years with the highest salary.

If the NHLPA says that Gary Bettman and his new rules can bugger off:

1. It [NHL] will reject the Kovalchuk contract.

2. It will move to immediately devoid the Luongo contract.

3. It will move to immediately open proceedings for a formal investigation into the Hossa contract.

Well that’s surprising, appalling, brilliant, totalitarian and refreshing.

Can they do this?  I’m not the CBA expert.  Never will be, don’t want to be.  Forget I asked.

I believe the NHL is exerting its muscle.  Unions wield admirable power, but ultimately this is an employer/employee relationship.  It is not equal, CBA or no CBA.  An employer always holds an extra card. Darren Dreger ratifies that the amendment can’t be made without a vote, but if the NHLPA capitulates, and then the vote is “No”, that is akin to a rejection by the NHLPA and subsequently the rejection of at least two and possibly three super star hockey contracts.

The NHL clearly feels like making this a big enough issue to warrant this as an ultimatum.  If the NHLPA feels as strongly, they can try convincing their members to strike in two years, essentially on behalf of Kovalchuk.  Or the NHLPA can be agreeable, remember its other members and tell Kovalchuk he done pushed it too far.  I believe that it is prudent for both parties to be willing to walk away from Kovalchuk if he is unwilling to play in this league at anything less than money (cap) no one wants to give him on a contract the league can swallow.

I kind of enjoy chaos.  The unknown.

When I see dynamic and varied possibilities for interesting reactions, I am intrigued.  The potential voiding of other contracts to be the end result of a union going to bat for one player, who is most likely a little crazy, its kind of marvelous to the absurdist.  You are welcome to pin the blame on the NHL for ‘picking on’ Kovalchuk.  Stamp your feat that he was the asshole in class who got everyone detention.  Regardless, this decision could cause some division among the NHLPA’s ranks.  Crazier still, it probably WILL cause division.

If the NHLPA rejects the ultimatum, then there are a whole slew of questions as to the ramifications of voiding the contracts of Hossa and Luongo.  Are they the only two, along with Kovy, in danger here?  What happens to the Hawks Cup?  An asterisk? Do Vancouver fans cry and rail against the league or embrace their blessing?  Does Kovalchuk hold true to his word and beat it?

But consider, for the first time the ball is truly in the NHLPA’s court.

Since we’ve been assuming that the report is accurate so far (which we won’t in a moment), let’s also assume the league never breaths another word about Savard, or Pronger, et al in any capacity.

Their other chance, an acceptance of these rules, gives everyone their contracts, and the new rules don’t effect the mass majority of players, since most of them are lucky to play 5 years worth of games in the league, let alone sign a deal longer than that.  But it will piss off some other players, it will effect more than the three fricken’ players who caused all the trouble. Think about the newer generation.  The Doughty’s of the world (assuming they even want to sign these kinds of contract eventually… so far Bobby Ryan is making a good argument that they don’t).

Time to stop assuming.

Brooks is a blowhard.  A reporter, with information.  But sort of a jackass.

I am not about to doubt the validity of his information, but I must ask some questions.

Such as, is it really an ultimatum?  Is it that black and white?  Or was that a fancy little word of yellow journalism right there?

“Or else!” and, “Hey, here’s an idea” are two very different animals.

If the NHL can extend their 5 day deadline, impose a new one of 2 days for the NHLPA (supposedly with their blessing as TSN claimed the two sides ‘agreed’ on the extension), why can’t the NHLPA on Friday bargain a new extension?  Or accept on the contingency of a vote, but that it only goes to vote if there are further discussions if the vote shoots down the CBA amendments.

‘Ultimatum’ is a salvo fired.

But an ultimatum can also be a bluff.

It is likely no coincidence that Donald Fehr was announced as the new head of the NHLPA recently.  Is this a hazing?  Or a provocation?

However the NHLPA responds, these two parties are not yet done scratching around in the dark for a light switch.

I must say, I am impressed with Bettman and the NHL here if this is true.  I think its unfortunate it came to this, but this 2nd contract of Kovalchuk’s is the true instigator.   Had Lou, the Devil’s, Kovy and Grossman erred on the side of caution here (which they won’t, because Kovy won’t sign for less and Lou can’t afford less years, regardless of creative structure), we wouldn’t be sitting here wondering if the beginning of a 2012 lockout was just prevented, or begun.



Categories: L.A. Kings News

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4 replies

  1. I’m appropriately confused. I don’t get the idea that the cap hit on a player would end when he turns 40. Who does that benefit? It seems to benefit the team paying out the contract, but it also should look sort of attractive to the union, if they really want these ridiculously long deals. The cap hit being calculated by the highest five years on contracts over five years seems to be the real line in the sand. That would make them non workable, I would think, from the teams perspective. Why would you want to get into that?

    This is going to be wild to see how this all plays out.

    I don’t really see the union being in a position to answer this in 5 days unless they put it to a vote of the membership.

    • You’ve got it a little backwards. Its not that the cap hits end when they turn 40. Its that any contract years past 40 don’t count towards the cap hit for the duration of the contract. For example Kovalchuk’s latest contract wouldn’t count years 14 and 15. For cap averaging purposes it would be a 13 year 93MM deal.

      Though it looks more like the.most correct thing I said was that Brooks is a jackass. Everyone else denies there being an ultimatum. Its probably like I said, they discussed these options but Brooks added the ultimatum part to spice up his article.

  2. Not surprising that I have it bass-akwards there, thanks for the explanation, Surly. The Twitter birds are saying that the Kovalchuk deal, with the aforementioned conditions will be approved, which backs everyone off from the standoff point by grandfathering the Luongo, Hossa et.al. deals. I’m not really sure who I think blinked here, but it would seem to be the union.

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