Perhaps the next Collective Bargaining Agreement should include a “No Takebacks” clause.
One of the most prominent arguments against voiding Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract was that other, similar deals set a precedent that cap-circumventing contracts would be accepted. While discussing the broader implications of arbitrator Richard Bloch’s decision to reject the contract, The Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle found that impact of the ruling might have an even bigger effect than expected.
As it turns out, it might even make a difference even with contracts that were signed months, if not a year ago.
Bloch also noted that several other long-term contracts are under investigation for circumvention, listing deals given to Vancouver Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo, Boston Bruins centre Marc Savard, Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Chris Pronger and Chicago Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa as raising similar red flags to Kovalchuk’s rejected contract.
“While the contracts have in fact been registered, their structure has not escaped league notice,” the decision reads. “Those players’ contracts are being investigated currently with at least the possibility of a subsequent withdrawal of the registration.”
Several agents contacted Monday were alarmed by the implication of the league going after contracts already in effect.
“I’ve never heard of a contract that had been registered and approved and then having that registration withdrawn,” said one agent, who requested to remain anonymous.
“The league has two months now to go after Savard, Pronger and Luongo [whose contract extensions began July 1]. Until they start getting paid, they’ve got two months.”
Now that would be something. I’m no lawyer so take this with a grain of salt, but I’d imagine the league would face a real uphill battle when it comes to invalidating contracts that existed for so long.
The interesting thing is that every team except maybe the Chicago Blackhawks might be secretly pleased with a re-do of the contracts that were mentioned. Roberto Luongo faltered in his first year as the unofficial “captain” of the Canucks, Marc Savard has been the target of countless salary dump-related trade rumors and the Flyers unwittingly signed Chris Pronger to a 35+ contract.
Still, it sounds a bit far-fetched that the league will want to deal with such a mess all summer long. The NHL already has some egg on its face and will have a messy struggle ahead when it comes to coming to an agreement on a new CBA. We’ll keep you up to date as the Kovalchuk contract rejection fallout continues.