You had to know this was coming at some point in the wake of Richard Bloch’s ruling in favor of the NHL over the NHLPA regarding Ilya Kovalchuk’s nixed contract with the Devils. It’s just a little surprising that it took this long to get a response at all. NHL agent Kurt Overhardt sounded off about the Kovalchuk contract fiasco and he’s none too pleased about how things shook out as Elliott Pap at The Vancouver Sun found out.
“What basis did [Bloch] give?” Overhardt said. “What did he hang his hat on? The decision was completely subjective. There was no bad faith found between the parties, There was nothing within the collective bargaining agreement that he found was actually in violation of the document. So, therefore, logic and law and the facts dictate the contract should have been upheld.”
Overhardt also offered his opinion on a possible voiding of the Roberto Luongo, Marian Hossa, Marc Savard and Chris Pronger deals, which are heavily front-loaded as well.
“Any and all speculation that the league is going to claw back these other contracts … would be in complete violation of the collective bargaining agreement and it would be a complete infringement of the players’ rights under the CBA,” said Overhardt. “Any attempt to do so would be absolutely predatory behaviour by the league, would be in bad faith and not in the spirit of the CBA.”
A lot of what Overhardt is saying here is similar to what we mentioned last night in discussing how Bloch’s decisions seemed to be making assumptions about previous assumptions regarding any long-term contract signed. With that much gray area floating around it’s easy to weave in and out of decisions either way. Leaving things open for interpretation allows you to go around and fix issues “easier” when needed. Hey, it worked for the Constitution, right?
All right, for some legal documents it works out really well, in this case with the NHL it works however the law decides to bend it. In this case, it works really well for the owners and with the NHL looking a little closer at other obscene contracts, it could work to the owners benefit even more. As for players agents, seeing their clients get put through the wringer even after having an agreed-upon contract is an especially bitter pill to be force-fed, especially when it takes money out of their pockets as well.