SBD/Issue 244/Leagues & Governing Bodies

NHL Reportedly Gives NHLPA Ultimatum On Three Long-Term Deals

Marian Hossa's Contract With Blackhawks
One Of Three Under Scrutiny From NHL

The NHL has "given the NHLPA an ultimatum regarding the contested front-loaded contract of not only" Devils LW Ilya Kovalchuk, but Canucks G Roberto Luongo and Blackhawks RW Marian Hossa as well, according to a source cited by Larry Brooks of the N.Y. POST. The source indicated that the NHL has told the union that it "will grandfather the recently submitted Kovalchuk 15-year, $100M contract, Luongo's 12-year, $64M deal that is entering its second season and Hossa's 12-year, $63.3M deal that also is entering its second season into the CBA" under certain conditions. Those conditions include that the salary cap hit on future multiyear contracts "will not count any seasons that end with the player over 40 years of age" and will be "calculated on the average of the salary up through age 40 only." Also, 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." Brooks reports the league has given the NHLPA, "being directed by Donald Fehr, until Friday" at 5:00pm ET to "accept these conditions." If the union refuses, the league reportedly has said that it will reject the Kovalchuk deal, "move to immediately devoid" Luongo's contract and "move to immediately open proceedings for a formal investigation into the Hossa contract" (N.Y. POST, 9/2). In L.A., Helene Elliott wrote 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 '12 (LATIMES.com, 9/1).

WHAT'S TWO MORE DAYS? The NHL and NHLPA yesterday announced that they have "mutually agreed to extend the deadline" for a decision on Kovalchuk's contract until Friday at 5:00pm, two days after a "decision was supposed to be reached." Devils President, CEO & GM Lou Lamoriello said that he "did not know the reason for the extension." But he said, "We're not discouraged. They've decided to extend it. They can make a decision before, but the end line is Friday. Both sides agreed to the extension and I'm sure there is a reason." In Newark, Rich Chere notes a "two-day extension is somewhat surprising in that the contract submitted by the Devils to the league last week cannot be altered." The NHL "must make a decision based on the contract that was submitted late last week" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 9/2). The submitted Devils-Kovalchuk contract reportedly has a "less steep drop in its later years than the first contract," which the NHL rejected (LATIMES.com, 9/1). If the NHL rejects the latest deal, Kovalchuk and the union "would once again have the right to appeal the decision in front of an arbitrator, but time could be running out." NHL training camps open two weeks from tomorrow, and reports have suggested that Kovalchuk is "contemplating playing" in Russia's KHL "if a deal could not be reached by last weekend" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/2).

A LOOK ON THE BRIGHTSIDE: ESPN.com's Scott Burnside wrote the deadline has been extended to Friday because "maybe this is less about the Kovalchuk deal specifically and more about how to get out from under the shadow cast by these kinds of deals in general." Burnside: "How refreshing would it be if, sometime before Friday afternoon, the NHL and NHLPA announced a new set of guidelines governing long-term deals?" (ESPN.com, 9/1). In Toronto, Damien Cox wrote if the NHL and NHLPA "are really using the 48-hour extension in the Kovalchuk decision to hammer out some kind of mid-CBA agreement on how to handle these deals, it's probably a good thing for everybody ... except maybe Kovalchuk" (THESTAR.com, 9/2).

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