Agents say that the NHL can't block Kovalchuk's contract

kovalchukpresser3.jpgThrough the many twists and turns of the Ilya Kovalchuk contract squabble with the Devils, we’ve been wondering about what, exactly, the league can do about things. The NHL has already done their part in rejecting the deal and while we wait to hear from the NHLPA about when/if they’ll file a grievance with the league over that, Michael Traikos of The National Post has polled some NHL agents about what they think will happen and the response was vitriolic.

But several player agents said if the matter goes before an arbitrator, the league would soon find out that it “doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on.”

“I can tell you that during bargaining, that the league was not successful in negotiating rules to limit the length of contract a player can sign with a club,” said player agent Ian Pulver, who was one of the authors of the CBA. “So the NHL is going to have to show evidence that the club and the player were trying to defeat rules in the collective agreement, because they can’t certainly prove that a player will not play when he’s 44 years old.

“You have to have the evidence to support that. Saying ‘we think’ is not strong enough.”

Indeed, there is nothing in the language of the CBA that limits the number of years on a player contract. Neither is there any proof that Kovalchuk will not be playing in 2026-27.

What’s been abundantly clear through this whole mess that the league has created is that they’re again being stung by their own wild inconsistency. Contracts similar to Kovalchuk’s deal by Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Marian Hossa, Marc Savard and Chris Pronger were all allowed by the league. Whether they were allowed begrudgingly or not doesn’t matter, the point is they were OK’d by the league and that’s that. The league picking this deal at this moment in time, just two years before the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement expires with the NHLPA, is not coincidental.
The owners, courtesy of Gary Bettman, are setting up their own argument to be had with the NHLPA in 2012 when the owners complain about the salary structure and how things have ballooned out of control, they can use this one instance to say, “Listen, we tried to get things under control here but you, the players, decided to make a big mess out of things. We want things to be stricter.” Never mind that history up until this moment with Ilya Kovalchuk dictates otherwise, this is where they are taking a stand and where they’re attempting to “change the game” for themselves. Unfortunately for the owners and for Gary Bettman, everyone sees right through this.
Further from Traikos’ piece:

The Devils have up until Monday to renegotiate a new deal with Kovalchuk, or allow the NHLPA to file a grievance and send the matter to an independent arbitrator. After that, the league might find out if it will have to live with its mistakes until the next CBA is negotiated.

“The fact that they’re not registering this contract when it clearly does not circumvent anything in the CBA is a condemnation of Gary Bettman and Bill Daly’s skills,” said one agent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “If they think this is a bad deal, then they failed to do their jobs.

“Why don’t they suck it up and be men and accept that they screwed up?”

Asking billionaires used to getting their way to fess up and take responsibility for a mistake is often like trying to get blood from a stone. These are the sorts of things CBA negotiations get ugly over, and this is just the beginning. The fact that the NHLs case against Kovalchuk’s deal is so poor makes it feel like this is all set up to make the players look badly. We’ve been down this road before in the NHL and fans and curious onlookers alike didn’t buy into that blame game before, and there’s no chance that it works this time.

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    Bad news for Boedker: Coyotes won’t face Sens again in 2015-16

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    Sorry Mikkel Boedker, you won’t get to face the Ottawa Senators again this season.

    OK, it could happen if the speedster is traded from the Arizona Coyotes. He could also face the Senators in the unlikely instance that the two teams fight it out in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

    Beyond those two possibilities, Saturday night was it, and Boedker must have been licking his chops much like an actual coyote.

    For the second straight game, Boedker managed a hat trick against the Senators, helping Arizona beat Ottawa 4-3 last night. His third tally stood as the game-winner in a 4-3 victory.

    You can watch all three goals in the video above.

    It’s oddly fitting that Boedker has three goals this season … against teams not named the Ottawa Senators.

    Hey, Tortorella called the Penguins whiners again

    John Tortorella

    Don’t forget, the Blue Jackets – Penguins rivalry isn’t just about the bitterness between Sidney Crosby and Brandon Dubinsky; John Tortorella can fuel the fire, too.

    Torts must not have been happy about the one-game suspension that Dubinsky received for cross-checking Crosby, as he channeled his vintage self in essentially calling the Penguins a bunch of whiners.

    You can see from this glorious Sportsnet video, Tortorella said: “Pittsburgh whines enough for the whole league.”

    (He also said the Blue Jackets weren’t going to whine by … whining. Good stuff.)

    As Puck Daddy notes, this isn’t the first time Torts claimed that the Penguins are whiners.

    Both the Blue Jackets and Penguins lost their games on Saturday, but clearly some eyes and ears were still focused on their last confrontation.

    In case you’re wondering, the two teams next face off in Pittsburgh on Dec. 21.


    Scary moment: Carlo Colaiacovo hospitalized with ‘dented trachea’


    Buffalo Sabres defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo has experienced plenty of bad injury luck in his winding career, but Saturday presented one of his worst scares.

    As you can see from the video above, Colaiacovo received a scary cross-check from Viktor Arvidsson of the Nashville Predators, who received a major penalty and game misconduct.

    Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma said that Colaiacovo was hospitalized with a “dented trachea” yet is OK, the Buffalo News’ John Vogl reports.

    Frightening stuff from an eventual 4-1 Sabres win.

    PHT will keep an eye out for additional updates regarding Colaiacovo’s health (and a possible suspension for Arvidsson).

    Comeback Kings: Gaborik pulls L.A. past Kane, Blackhawks

    Jake Muzzin, Scott Darling

    Patrick Kane set an American scoring record, and added another assist to make it more impressive, but the Los Angeles Kings just wouldn’t be denied.

    In the end, Marian Gaborik‘s big night meant more than Kane’s; he scored the tying and then overtime game-winner, both assisted by Anze Kopitar, for a rousing 4-3 overtime Kings win.

    Gaborik’s first goal:

    And here’s video of the OT-GWG:

    Noticing a theme tonight? Yeah, it’s been an evening in which it’s dangerous to assume a lead would stand.

    With that, the Kings stick to the No. 1 spot in the Pacific Division, but Chicago shouldn’t feel all bad. The Blackhawks were able to piece together a decent run during their dreaded “circus trip.”