For those cats in the swamp that were getting excited to bet on the Devils next year with Kovalchuk locked for the next 17 years, put the party on hold, the NHL isn’t buying it. Read more.
The NHL has officially rejected Kovalchuk’s 17 year, $102 million contract with the New Jersey Devils, but why the crackdown now?
For a few years now the NHL has been getting hoodwinked by sham contracts where the teams and the players involved have no intentions of honoring the contract, but deals are struck for obscene amounts of cash for lengthy periods of time all in an effort to circumvent the NHL salary cap. It’s good on the books of these teams and it gives them room to maneuver, but in reality, it’s not allowed, technically. Ilya Kovalchuk is one of the first players to get pinched by the NHL for a bogus contract. I guess the NHL wasn’t buying that career loafer like Kovalchuk was planning on playing hockey into his mid forties. I’m not buying it either.
But the issue I have with this is why the NHL has chosen this particular contract to crack down. Kovalchuk is just one of many players with similar deals, under what criteria is the NHL blocking this contract and not blocking others? If we take a look at the Vancouver Canucks star goalie, Roberto Luongo’s contract extension, it goes for 12 years and is worth $64 million. Luongo is already 31, it’s hard to picture him between the pipes for the next 12 years, but it sure paints a prettier picture on the Canucks books.
What about Marian Hossa? Hossa signed a similar 10 plus year contract with Blackhawks last season and the NHL huffed and they puffed but they didn’t reject the contract. Read more. There’s been several others, including Rick Dipietro’s 15 year ridiculous contract and even more recently, Chris Pronger’s super front loaded contract. Read more.
Most of these players have absolutely no intention of playing for the full duration of their contracts, that’s obvious whether they come out and say or not. So it’s very interesting why the NHL has chosen Kovalchuk to set an example. It’s a bit of a hypocritical stance the league is taking, you can’t really single out one guy and one team when so many teams are doing it and reaping the benefits. This whole saga isn’t over yet, the Devils do have the option of taking this to arbitration which could likely set precedent for similar contracts in the future.