Report: NHL offers "ultimatum" with NHLPA over Kovalchuk contract, dire consequences if not accepted

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for kovalchuklouvanderbeek.jpgIf you found yourself disappointed by this afternoon’s news about the NHL and NHLPA agreeing to extend the deadline to decide the fate of Ilya Kovalchuk’s latest contract with the New Jersey Devils, don’t worry, business just picked up.

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks is reporting that the NHL has given the NHLPA a set of stipulations under which they’ll agree to the Ilya Kovalchuk contract and, in essence, grandfather his deal in as the last of its kind so long as the players union agrees to amend the collective bargaining agreement to end these sorts of deals… Or else.

A well placed source reports that the league has informed the Players’ Assn. that the league will grandfather the recently submitted Kovalchuk 15-year, $100M contract, Luongo’s 12-year, $64M deal that is entering its second season and Hossa’s 12-year, $63.3M deal that also is entering its second season into the CBA under the following conditions:

1. That the cap hit on future multi-year contracts will not count any seasons that end with the player over 40 years of age. The cap hit would be calculated on the average of the salary up through age 40 only.

2. That the cap hit on future contracts longer than five years will be calculated under a formula granting additional weight to the five years with the highest salary.

The league has given the PA, which is being directed by Donald Fehr, until Friday at 5 pm to accept these conditions. If the PA refuses, or if negotiations fail to yeild a common ground, the league has informed the PA that:

1. It will reject the Kovalchuck contract.

2. It will move to immediately devoid the Luongo contract.

3. It will move to immediately open proceedings for a formal investigation into the Hossa contract.

Take a second to digest all of that because that’s one heaping pile of “Whoa….”

Now I know you’re saying that this may not be true when it comes to stuff coming from the New York Post and that’s fair. Larry Brooks is a bit of a different guy though because he’s a staunch NHLPA supporter in his columns and he seems to have connections from within. This report is awfully detailed, however, but use your grain of salt as you will.

If this is all true though, the NHL has now turned the game against the NHLPA and Donald Fehr, plain and simple. It’s the classic setting for negotiation. The NHL will give the NHLPA what they want as far as Kovalchuk’s deal is concerned as long as they give in to amending the collective bargaining agreement to add the new rules on contracts and cap hits. If the NHLPA decides to tell the NHL to stuff it where the sun doesn’t shine, then they’re nixing Kovalchuk’s latest contract and declaring war on the other deals they’re investigating and zeroing in on Roberto Luongo next with Marian Hossa waiting in the wings.

And you thought there was an uproar over Kovalchuk? Just wait until Vancouver, the West Coast Branch of Tinfoil Haberdashery, gets involved. Chicago fans are still busy trying to figure out who the heck is still on the team after their summer. Presumably they’ll get angry if/when they see that Marian Hossa is still on the team but won’t be because the league is going to give his contract the grenade.

To be serious though, Friday now has the potential to be the end is the beginning is the end of all of this nonsense. The plans are laid out clear as day. Either the NHLPA goes along with the NHLs ideas and everything proceeds as normal and contracts from that point on will be judged differently or they fight and Kovalchuk either goes for it again or bolts to Russia, meanwhile Roberto Luongo gets his agent on the phone posthaste to start working on a new contract. Marian Hossa, meanwhile, starts to sweat things out a little wondering if the NHL is coming for him too.

This isn’t to say that Friday will be an Armageddon kind of day as far as these parties are concerned. It’s not. This just means that talk about actual hockey is either going to be able to happen uninterrupted or fall back behind legal wranglings while we’re on the precipice of a new season. What a fine mess we’ve found ourselves in.

Mumps outbreak hits Canucks, five players to miss Sharks game

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 11: Troy Stecher #51 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on February 11, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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The mumps are back.

Three years after a league-wide outbreak sidelined a slew of players, the Canucks have announced that d-man Troy Stecher has been diagnosed with mumps, while four other players — Chris Tanev, Nikita Tryamkin, Mike Chaput and Markus Granlund — have presented symptoms.

More, from the club:

The team has worked from the outset with the Vancouver Health Authority, NHL, NHLPA and BC Centre for Disease Control to minimize transmission of the illness.

In keeping with BC Centre of Disease Control and Vancouver Coastal Health guidelines, players presenting symptoms are immediately being tested and quarantined in isolation for a five-day period from the onset of symptoms or until test results prove negative.

Vaccines are also being administered to minimize further risk of contraction along with universal preventative hygiene measures as recommended by Vancouver Coastal Health including disinfecting all dressing room areas.

Vancouver’s in the midst of its bye week. Saturday’s home date against the Sharks will be its first since a 3-2 loss to Philly on Sunday.

Given that Stecher’s out and the other four are being quarantined, the Canucks project to be severely undermanned tomorrow. There was no immediate announcement for AHL recall plans, or emergency roster replacements.

Following Saturday’s game, Vancouver is back in action again on Tuesday, when it hosts Detroit.

Stars trade Patrick Eaves to Ducks

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 17: Patrick Eaves #18 of the Dallas Stars skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on January 17, 2017 in New York City. The Stars defeated the Rangers 7-6.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Anaheim Ducks have acquired winger Patrick Eaves in a trade with the Dallas Stars. The cost was a conditional second-round draft pick in 2017.

Eaves, 32, is enjoying a career year with 21 goals in 59 games. A pending unrestricted free agent, his cap hit is just $1 million. It was expected that he’d be traded prior to next week’s deadline.

Eaves join a Ducks team that could use a few more goals. Of note, Corey Perry has struggled offensively, scoring just 11 times in 62 games.

Below is the condition on the draft pick, which could turn into a first-round selection.

Based on draft position, Dallas will receive the middle pick of Ottawa, San Jose or Toronto’s second-round selections in 2017 per the conditions in which Anaheim acquired the pick from Toronto in a previous trade. Should Anaheim advance to the third round of the postseason and Eaves plays in 50% or more of their games in the first two rounds, the selection becomes the Ducks first-round selection in the 2017 NHL Draft.

Related: The Wild have options in search for forward depth

Bickell to play first game since MS diagnosis

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - OCTOBER 13: Paul Postma #4 of the Winnipeg Jets and Bryan Bickell #29 of the Carolina Hurricanes head to the Carolina zone during NHL action on October 22, 2016 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (Photo by Jason Halstead /Getty Images)
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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Carolina Hurricanes forward Bryan Bickell is expected to skate in his first hockey game since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

The Hurricanes assigned Bickell to their AHL affiliate in Charlotte on Friday and say he’s expected to play for the Checkers on Saturday night.

The move came a day after he was placed on waivers in a procedural move that allowed the team to send him to the minors.

Bickell, 30, has been out since October, was diagnosed with MS in November and was placed on injured reserve on Nov. 11.

The three-time Stanley Cup winner with Chicago has been practicing with the Hurricanes for the past month.

Rutherford says Schultz extension ‘definitely a priority’ this summer

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 06:  Justin Schultz #4 of the Pittsburgh Penguins looks on before a face off against the New Jersey Devils on March 6, 2016 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Justin Schultz‘s career has done a virtual 180 since joining Pittsburgh at last year’s trade deadline, and the Pens have made it clear they’d like to keep him around beyond this season.

“We have not [discussed an extension with Schultz],” GM Jim Rutherford said, per the Post-Gazette. “But he will definitely be a priority for us in the offseason.”

Acquired for a third-round pick last February, Schultz proved to be one of Rutherford’s best moves (part of the reason why Rutherford captured NHL GM of the Year). The former Oilers rearguard had seven points through 18 regular-season games and then thrived once getting into the playoff mix, helping Pittsburgh win the Stanley Cup.

He was signed to a modest one-year, $1.4 million extension last summer, which has turned out to be another Rutherford masterstroke.

Schultz has been vitally important for a Pittsburgh defense decimated by injury. His TOI is way up — 19:15 per game — and his offensive contributions have been outstanding. The 26-year-old has nine goals and 39 points through 56 games, putting him tops among all Pens d-men (and tied for seventh among all NHL blueliners).

Schultz is a pending RFA, and in line for a pretty big raise. The Post-Gazette suggested it could cost Pittsburgh $4-$5 million annually to keep him around, meaning Rutherford will have his work cut out. Chris Kunitz, Nick Bonino and Trevor Daley are all pending UFAs, while fellow d-man Brian Dumoulin is also restricted come July 1.

Rutherford will also need to deal with the Marc-Andre Fleury issue, specifically how to mitigate Fleury’s $5.75 million cap hit.