While we haven’t been talking much lately about the Ilya Kovalchuk contract grievance between the NHL and the NHLPA, there are things that need to be settled and if what Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice says has found is correct, we might see a solution to things next week.
A source said this afternoon that a system arbitrator has been ageed upon by the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association to rule on the grievance over Ilya Kovalchuk’s rejected, 17-year, $102 million contract.
A hearing has been scheduled, but the source would not reveal the identity of the arbitrator or the date, time and site of the hearing. It’s possible it will be in a city other than New York or Toronto. I will continue to try to find out those important details and will post an update if successful.
The sides had to agree upon the site and date/time of the hearing as well and appear intent on keeping it low profile.
The source did say that the objective is for the matter to be settled by the end of next week, though. So, you can probably guess that the hearing will take place early next week–possibly Monday or Tuesday.
The hearing is expected to take two days and a ruling would be due within 48 hours of its conclusion.
If this turns out to be true, chalk one up for both the NHL and the NHLPA for getting some of their differences put aside so that they could get a systems arbitrator in place and get this situation taken care of one way or another. Of course, that could turn out to be the only thing they end up agreeing on through this whole mess. Should the arbitrator reject the contract, Kovalchuk is then once again a free agent and then it’s back to square one for everyone involved once again.
That isn’t to say that teams would come out of the woodwork to try and get Kovalchuk again, as it was it was between just the Devils and Kings for his services and while Dean Lombardi has said that the Kings would still be interested in him, it’s rather unfathomable to think that Kovalchuk won’t still end up in New Jersey. Then again, given how much insane stuff has already gone on through this entire saga, I wouldn’t bet against anything at this point.
Jyrki Jokipakka was one of the three Finnish d-men added to the World Cup roster last week but, according to Calgary president Brian Burke, Jokipakka isn’t a lock to play this fall.
“He had hip surgery after the season, and it’s not 100 percent that he’s going to be able to compete in this tournament,” Burke told Sportsnet’s Fan 960. “But the fact he was named recognizes his accomplishments to date, and we’re very proud of [him].”
Jokipakka, acquired in the Kris Russell-to-Dallas deadline trade, appeared in 58 games last year — 18 for the Flames, 40 for the Stars. He finished with two goals and 12 points.
Still only 24 years old, Jokipakka could be a nice piece for the Flames moving forward. He’s 6-foot-3, 215 pounds and was rated highly enough to crack the Finnish roster (granted, the country isn’t overwhelmingly deep on the blueline).
So it’s understandable why the club might be wary of letting him play in the World Cup. In addition to coming off major surgery, Jokipakka is headed into the last of a two-year, $1.8 million deal with a $900,000 average annual cap hit.
Once that expires, he’ll become a restricted free agent.
PITTSBURGH — Kris Letang will play tonight. He confirmed it this morning, albeit in rather unusual circumstances.
Letang did not participate in yesterday’s Media Day at the Stanley Cup Final. He didn’t practice either. The Penguins said it was simply a “maintenance day” for their best defensemen, but when it was learned he would hold a press conference this morning, all of a sudden people started to wonder about his status for Game 1 against the Sharks.
He was asked if he was playing.
So, no problems?
And that was that.
No explanation was provided about yesterday, but Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said a few minutes later that he was confident that Letang would be able to log his usual amount of minutes.
“Very confident,” said Sullivan.
Penguins center Nick Bonino also confirmed that he’ll be able to go tonight. He didn’t skate Saturday or Sunday, but was on the ice this morning.
Jan Bulis, who appeared in 552 games with the Capitals, Canadiens and Canucks, announced his retirement from professional hockey today, per Czech news outlet Ceske Noviny.
Bulis, 38, last played in North America with Vancouver during the 2006-07 campaign, and has since carved out a pretty lengthy career in the KHL, playing for both Mytishchi Atlant and Chelyabinsk Traktor.
Picked 43rd overall by Washington at the 1996 draft, Bulis’ best years came with the Habs. He posted a career-high 20 goals and 40 points in 2005-06 — that year, he also represented the Czechs at the Winter Olympics in Turin (capturing bronze) and at the World Hockey Championships (capturing silver).
It seems there will be no NHL comeback attempt by Alex Semin. At least not in 2016-17.
Instead, Semin has inked a one-year extension with Magnitogorsk Metallurg, according to Sport-Express writer Igor Eronko.
At 32 years old, Semin still could have a lot of years left in him as a professional hockey player, but at this point it wouldn’t be surprising if he has played in his last NHL game. Early in his career his talent was clear and demonstrated by some great showings offensively, but he was plagued by inconsistency. In recent years though, he wasn’t so much inconsistent as he was underwhelming.
After being limited to six goals and 19 points in 57 games with Carolina in 2014-15, the one-time 40-goal scorer was bought out of his five-year, $35 million contract just two seasons into it. Montreal took a chance on him for 2015-16, but he only appeared in 15 games with the Canadiens before they put him on unconditional waivers on Dec. 9.
He’s fared better in the KHL though, with five goals and 14 points in 20 regular season games followed by another seven markers and 15 points in 23 playoff contests.