Through 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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Despite carrying the play, especially through the first two periods, the Bruins were unable to score and were shut out once again, losing the game on a goal from Marian Hossa with 1:26 remaining in regulation. For the Bruins, that’s a heartbreaker.
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) The toughest thing Montreal Canadiens goalie Al Montoya had to do against the New Jersey Devils was stay awake.
The Canadiens limited the Devils to a season-low 17 shots, and Shea Weber and Max Pacioretty each scored a power-play goal during a major penalty early in the third period of Montreal’s 3-1 victory Friday night.
“I’d take this any night,” Montoya said after the Canadiens snapped a two-game skid. “Your team is playing fantastic in front of you. Halfway through the game it’s 1-1 and all I’m really focused on is making that next save. These guys did a phenomenal job and I just wanted to make that next save, and the power play was terrific. The guys were mainly terrific all night.”
The difference in this one was the power play. The Canadiens were 3 for 7 with the extra man and they converted twice with Devils defenseman Karl Stollery in the box for a boarding major.
The call was iffy. Stollery hit Canadiens defenseman Nathan Beaulieu in the corner in the Devils end, but the question was whether it was a major or minor penalty.
“It happened quick,” Stollery said. “The guy is coming in and I am going in to finish the play and he turns up. I probably would like to let up a little bit more if it happened again. It’s one of those things that happens quick.”
Devils coach John Hynes screamed at the officials.
“All I got was they felt it was a dangerous hit,” Hynes said. “At that point they are not going to explain it too much. They were defensive. They made the call. It is what it is. At that point we have to try to find a way to kill it better than we did.”
The first two minutes of the major were played 4-on-4, but the Canadiens capitalized after that.
Weber scored his 11th of the season on a drive from the blue line at 3:01 that was set up by Radulov. Pacioretty got his 21st at 4:23 with a shot that deflected off the skate of Devils forward Adam Henrique.
“It was huge,” Weber said. “Obviously, special teams mean so much coming down the stretch and heading into playoffs, so trying to get some chemistry going and help the team win games, it’s obviously a big thing.”
Rookie defenseman Steven Santini gave the Devils an early 1-0 lead, but the Canadiens dominated after that, firing 26 shots at Keith Kinkaid.
Montoya had nothing to do for long stretches. New Jersey was held without a shot for more than 12 minutes after Santini scored, and it needed 13 minutes to get one in the second period.
Santini put New Jersey ahead when he flipped a shot from just inside the blue line that floated into the top corner of the net.
Galchenyuk tied the game 74 seconds later with a shot from the left circle with Devils forward Miles Wood in the penalty box for slashing. The tally came 28 seconds after the penalty and on Montreal’s first shot with the man advantage.
Henrik Sedin has become the 85th player in NHL history to reach 1,000 career points.
Sedin, the Canucks captain, hit the milestone Friday against the Florida Panthers and his former teammate Roberto Luongo. As you might imagine, twin brother Daniel Sedin also factored into the goal.
Daniel fed Henrik with a perfect pass off the rush, and Henrik finished the play off, sliding the puck through the legs of Luongo to tie the game 1-1 in the second period. It was another beauty, another example of what has made those two players so special for many years in Vancouver.
Henrik Sedin is the first player in Canucks history to reach 1,000 points. He also becomes just the fourth player from Sweden to hit that number, joining Mats Sundin, Daniel Alfredsson and Nicklas Lidstrom.
Daniel should also reach the mark, although he may have to wait until next season. He entered Friday’s game with 967 career points.
Great touch of class, too, from Luongo, who quickly embraced his former teammate as Sedin skated back to the bench following the on-ice celebration.
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