Well it took a little longer that we all would have hoped for, but it appears we finally have an answer on the Kovalchuk situation. Teams will once again get to speak to the star winger as he is a free agent.
After the NHL rejected the contract, the NHLPA filed a grievance and it went to an arbiter, who today ruled in favor of the league in a little bit of a surprise move.
This is sending some shock waves through the media as some people are beginning to wonder how this will effect the league when the next CBA needs to be negotiated in a few years. Here's a hint: it's not necessarily all that good. Couple that with the fact that the league might be planning to go after other extensions that haven't kicked in yet (Luongo, Pronger and Savard), the NHLPA is not a happy group. Donald Fehr is supposed to be taking some sort of leadership role with the PA, and many of you baseball fans might remember him as the guy many credit with "ruining" baseball in the 1990's.
Sure, the league might have appeared to win when the current CBA was negotiated in 2005, but think about this for a second. The salary cap was set at $39 million for 2005-06. The 10-11 season will have it's cap set at 59.4. That's $20 million over just five years. This is a league that has had a decent rebound since the lockout, but is still on life support in many areas. They can't afford another work stoppage. If they do, it's over. Don't get me wrong: the league is absolutely right in going after contracts that are blatantly created to circumvent the cap and I fully support them for this. But they need to tread very carefully as the players association thinks they aren't making enough money and fix that by circumventing the cap.
At any rate, not to take this on one of my in-depth state of the league rants (if you couldn't tell, I'm not optimistic about it - we'll save that for another day), Kovy is a free agent again. I'm sure the Islanders will be talking to his camp once again on that short term deal. The Los Angeles Kings will surely show interest again. The Devils will probably offer a new deal shorter in term with dollars allocated differently and some players gone. I would figure the Devils are still the favorites for him if he chooses to stay in the NHL. The KHL offers (blank checks) are still on the table, including one for 17 years.
So we wait and see...again. As much as I was tired of dealing with all of the speculation last month on where he would go, I almost missed it...almost. Either way, this will not be as long and drawn out as the last time. Devils for shorter term.
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