Report: NHL rejects Ilya Kovalchuk's front-loaded contract

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laughingdevils.jpgApparently “Loophole Lou” might have gotten in the way of the loophole-manipulating contract that Ilya Kovalchuk signed with his New Jersey Devils.

An AP report indicates that the NHL rejected the 17-year, $102 million contract the Russian winger was offered to stay in Newark. Keep in mind this isn’t quite “official” just yet, but it wouldn’t be shocking if the deal upset many in the league offices. Here’s more from that story.

Speaking on condition of anonymity because the NHL has not announced the decision to void the deal, the person tells The Associated Press on Tuesday night that Kovalchuk’s contract is illegal because the years of low salary at the end of the contract were added for the sole purpose of lowering the cap hit.

The person added that no side believes Kovalchuk will play the final years of the deal at the low salary numbers that were agreed to in the deal. The star forward was slated to earn only $550,000 in each of the last five seasons of the contract.

While this might just come down to the Devils making the deal a bit more “honest” (as in, spreading the money out more evenly), it’s still an interesting put-your-foot-down moment for a league that did little more than “investigate” dubious contracts in the past.

We’ll update this story as it goes along, but for some background on why this might have happened, here are a few links on the Kovalchuk contract.

Kovalchuk’s deal by the numbers, which will show just how absurd the final years of the deal really are.

Our story on the Kovalchuk press conference, which includes some commentary from Lamoriello that might have spelled (temporary?) doom for the contract.

Want to see some highlights of the press conference itself? Click here.

NHL on NBCSN ’15-16 coverage begins tonight with doubleheader

Corey Crawford, Derek Stepan
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After months of waiting, we’re finally ready to begin the 2015-16 campaign and NBCSN will kick off its coverage with a doubleheader tonight.

The action will begin with the Chicago Blackhawks hosting the New York Rangers, starting at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Chicago has been called a dynasty by some for winning the Stanley Cup three times over the last six campaigns, but one thing that the Blackhawks haven’t done is successfully defend a title. The last team to do so was the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98 before the salary cap era kicked off. That change was on display this summer as the Blackhawks were forced to move or otherwise walk away from Johnny Oduya, Kris Versteeg, Patrick Sharp, Antoine Vermette, Brad Richards, and Brandon Saad in the name of cap compliance.

Even after losing all those pieces of their 2015 championship team though, Chicago has emerged from the summer with much of its core intact. It also has some promising new players, such as 23-year-old KHL star Artemi Panarin, who is attempting to make the leap to the NHL after outscoring former teammate Ilya Kovalchuk on his way to leading SKA St. Petersburg to a KHL championship.

The New York Rangers should be a great first test for the Blackhawks as they begin their new quest. The Rangers advanced to at least the Eastern Conference Final in three of the last four years, but they haven’t earned a championship since 1994. With Henrik Lundqvist set to celebrate his 34th birthday in March, the Rangers’ window for winning the Cup in front of their all-star goaltender is closing and thus the stakes are high for New York this season.

Starting at 10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN will air the San Jose Sharks’ contest against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. This is the second straight year that these two teams have been matched for the opener, but this time it’s under much different circumstances.

A year ago, Los Angeles had its sights set on defending its title while the Sharks were seeking revenge after suffering a reverse sweep in the first round against the Kings. In the end, neither team had the season they were looking for as they both fell short of the playoffs.

For the Sharks, that miss ended a playoff streak that dated back to the 2003-04 campaign while Los Angeles suffered its first major setback since it celebrated its first championship in 2012. Both teams have to be hungry to bounce right back this season and given that each both of these squads are certainly capable of obtaining that goal. First though, they need to settle the latest chapter of their rivalry.

PHT Morning Skate: Remembering 10 years of Crosby, Ovechkin

Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Here’s a detailed look back at Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin‘s first 10 years in the NHL. (

Speaking of Crosby, he’s signed a multiyear partnership with adidas. (Newswire)

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will play a key role in easing Connor McDavid into the NHL. (Edmonton Sun)

After two polar opposite seasons, the jury is still out on Patrick Roy as a head coach. (Denver Post)

Marc-Andre Fleury enjoys pulling off pranks on his teammates. “I play better when I’m looser, laughing and having fun,” he said. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Art McDonald, a Canadian who won recently won a Nobel Prize, talked to the committee members about the Toronto Maple Leafs. (SB Nation)