Arbitrator Richard Bloch, now the most infamous man in New Jersey and the NHLPA, issued his own statement outlining his decision siding with the NHL against the NHLPA over Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract, voiding the deal.
In Bloch’s statement, the arbitrator says the Kovalchuk deal “is a retirement contract” and that it goes “well beyond the typical retirement age for NHL players.”
Until a full outline of the hearing and result gets released, if ever, we’ll be picking apart these words as to how they applied to the case. As it reads right now, Richard Bloch believes that players that have played hockey into their 40s are an extreme rarity. While there’s a handful of guys you could point to in the NHL right now that still play into their 40s and can play at an elite level (Nick Lidstrom, Mark Recchi, Mike Modano), Arbitrator Bloch is making the assumption that Ilya Kovalchuk will not be one of those players and that this contract was an outright sham because of it.
Here’s to hoping that Kovalchuk pulls a Gordie Howe and plays until he’s into his 50s just to prove a point. That said, the logic on everything works out to be a bit wonky. The contract Kovalchuk signs is agreed upon under the assumption that he’ll play until he’s 44 with maybe a wink-and-a-nod that if he called it a career before then that would be all right. The deal is nixed under the assumption that Kovalchuk won’t be playing until he’s that old. Anyone following along with the logical disconnect here and able to draw up a conclusion that’s based in fact is either a judge or a lawyer.
It’s understood that this now-voided contract was a clear attempt to make Kovalchuk’s contract number easier to digest, The issue that comes into play here given that career length and age were used as a reason to turn this down, the line is apparently drawn at 44 years-old. Rick DiPietro’s 15-year contract pays him until he’s 39 years-old. Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen’s contracts with the Red Wings will pay them until they’re 40. Marian Hossa’s deal with Chicago pays him until he’s 41, and Roberto Luongo’s deal with the Canucks pays him until he’s 42. If these are the parameters to be met for reaching a deal with a player, then re-designing a new long-term contract for Ilya Kovalchuk should be pretty simple, playing at 44 years-old is a no-no but being a goalie that plays until you’re 42 is apparently kosher.
With a dividing line that is seemingly that easy to draw up, getting a new long-term deal done should be relatively simple, but as we’ve seen with everything that’s involved Ilya Kovalchuk this summer, all is not as easy it appears.
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.
Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?
Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.
Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.
Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).
A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:
Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.
It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.
After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.
Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.