Turns out the NHLPA stood up for Devils regarding Kovalchuk punishment

nhlpa_logo_rgb.jpgI know what you’re thinking when you see the headline. “Oh hell no, not more of this stuff!”

That’s a fine, fair and normal reaction but for those of you thinking that the NHLPA rolled over when the NHL punished the New Jersey Devils for circumventing the salary cap on their first contract offer for Ilya Kovalchuk, you’d be dead wrong. At least according to the New York Post’s Larry Brooks and his NHLPA sources you would be.

Slap Shots has been told that the delay of approximately 12 hours in finalizing the agreement reached in the early hours of Sept. 4 was caused by the union’s insistence that the Devils not be penalized with a loss of salary-cap space for having been found guilty of circumvention by arbitrator Richard Bloch on the first Kovalchuk contract submission.

The NHL, we’re told, finally yielded after it became clear that the union, protecting up to $3 million of New Jersey’s potential payroll, was not going to surrender on the issue.

Somehow we doubt that Lamoriello will be spending much time badmouthing Donald Fehr over the next two years.

Somehow we’re having a difficult time envisioning Gary Bettman re-appointing Lamoriello to the league’s negotiating committee during the next round of collective bargaining.

Standing up and fighting over this issue in particular turns out to be a huge win for the NHLPA. Losing $3 million in cap space would’ve changed the entire dynamic of the deal and would’ve served as a severe punishment for the Devils or any other team in the league that tried to do the same thing in the future.

While the Devils were already going to have to give up someone to get under the cap this year, picture them having to give up one or two more players to go along with that to make sure they could get Kovalchuk’s deal done. That would not be so pretty for the Devils nor effective for the union to sacrifice jobs like that to get contracts they want approved by the league.

Considering how late into the night they went to get the deal done, you can’t help but picture both sides sitting in a meeting having the world’s worst staring contest to settle things out. The league still got to punish the Devils, taking a third round pick from them and a future first round pick of the Devils’ choosing as well as a stiff fine, but considering how much tougher that fine could’ve been enforced, it’s a small, yet still noticeable, victory. They don’t all have to be big wins for the world’s shakiest union, but getting both the contract they wanted done as well as not hurting other players’ jobs is certainly a little something to be proud of.

Scroll Down For:

    Canucks spoil Ducks’ home opener via shootout

    Adam Cracknell, Ryan Miller

    ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Ryan Miller and the Vancouver Canucks have already found a groove just three games into the regular season. The Anaheim Ducks are still looking for a way to get their offense going.

    Radim Vrbata and Alex Burrows scored in the shootout, and the Canucks spoiled Anaheim’s home opener with a 2-1 victory Monday night.

    Miller made 28 saves and Adam Cracknell scored in regulation for Vancouver, which beat the Ducks for just the third time in their last 12 meetings.

    Vancouver improved to 2-0 on the road in the young season, with Miller yielding just one goal in each game. That’s encouraging to the veteran, who played in only four games after Feb. 22 last season while dealing with a knee injury.

    “I’m just trying to go out there and battle and compete,” said Miller, who stopped a third-period redirection by Carl Hagelin with his mask. “That was my mindset coming off an injury. That’s what it really comes down to, getting back the focus early on. I didn’t play hockey for a while. The technical stuff I worked on this summer and I pay attention to in practice.”

    Even with twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin combining for just one shot, the Canucks won the new season’s first meeting between the Pacific Division’s top two teams last year. Anaheim won its third straight division title, while Vancouver finished a surprising second before losing in the opening round of the playoffs.

    Sami Vatanen scored and Frederik Andersen stopped 24 shots for the Ducks, who have scored just one goal while going winless in the first two games of a season that begins with Stanley Cup aspirations.

    Anaheim was shut out in San Jose on Saturday in its opener before returning to Honda Center for its first real game on home ice since Game 7 of the Western Conference finals, when Chicago advanced to win the Stanley Cup.

    Kevin Bieksa played nearly 24 1/2 minutes in his second game with the Ducks. Anaheim acquired the veteran defenseman from Vancouver last summer after he played 10 years with the Canucks, who drafted him in 2001. Bieksa was reunited with Ryan Kesler, the longtime Vancouver forward who moved to Anaheim before last season.

    “We fought back a lot better than we did in San Jose,” Bieksa said. “So we need to keep building on this in the rest of this homestand here. If we do that, we’re going to be all right.”

    After the Ducks failed to score on a power play during their first official taste of 3-on-3 overtime hockey, Vrbata and Burrows got stuttering, halting shots past Andersen, who stopped Burrows’ shot before watching it trickle under him.

    “I’ve done that move a few times against a few goalies, but I don’t think I’ve ever done it against Freddie,” Burrows said. “So I tried it, and I’m lucky it went in tonight. It hit his stick and trickled in.”

    Jakob Silfverberg scored in the shootout for the Ducks, who lost their home opener for just the second time in six seasons. Anaheim’s talented offensive players aren’t clicking so far, but nobody is panicking yet.

    “I think we’re doing things the right way now,” Vatanen said. “We battled hard. We got some good chances. The season is long, so we’re going the right way.”

    Both teams opened at a furious pace, with end-to-end chances throughout. After a scoreless first period, Vatanen got the Ducks’ first goal of the season when his long, low shot went through Mike Santorelli‘s screen.

    Cracknell evened it later in the period with a sharp-angled shot that somehow deflected off Andersen’s shoulder or stick and landed behind the goalie. The journeyman got his first regular-season NHL goal since April 4, 2013, and just the seventh of his 85-game NHL career.

    “Pretty fortunate goal on their part,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said.

    NOTES: A small group of vocal protesters gathered outside Honda Center to call for the suspension of Ducks D Clayton Stoner, who faces charges in Canada related to a 2013 grizzly bear hunt. … Cracknell hadn’t scored a goal in his last 49 regular-season games, although he got a postseason goal in 2014 for St. Louis.

    Coming Tuesday: Dan Boyle, $4.5M healthy scratch

    Brad Marchand, Dan Boyle

    Few things say “Oops, bad signing” quite like putting a really expensive player in street clothes (without an injury being involved).

    The Philadelphia Flyers set quite the high bar in that regard, but the New York Rangers can’t laugh too much. Not with Dan Boyle expected to be a healthy scratch against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.

    The word from the Bergen Record is that Dylan McIlrath will draw into the Rangers lineup in Boyle’s space, although Kevin Klein will take over Boyle’s role on the power play.

    Let’s face the facts. At 39, Boyle may still boast some zip on offense, but maybe not enough to justify an everyday role.

    It’s not the first time the Rangers have decided to make the difficult, awkward season to phase a big name out as he approaches age 40.

    Even if it’s just a momentary situation, one cannot help but wonder if Boyle’s career is screeching to halt much like Martin St. Louis’ did in 2014-15 (though the latter’s decline was more sudden).

    On the bright side, it sounds like Boyle has a side job lined up with Faith No More.