To little surprise, the NHL Players Association did indeed file a grievance on Ilya Kovalchuk’s behalf today. Here’s the NHLPA’s statement via TSN.
“The NHLPA has filed a grievance disputing the NHL’s rejection of the Standard Player Contract between the New Jersey Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk. Under the terms of the CBA, the NHLPA and Mr. Kovalchuk are entitled to an expedited resolution of this matter. The NHLPA will have no further comment until this matter has been resolved by an Arbitrator.”
Need a refresher on the possible twists and turns this already muddled saga can take? Let me update the scenarios I discussed a little earlier today.
The next step is that the NHLPA and the league must agree on an independent arbitrator, a process some expect to take weeks. Once that is finally settled upon, the arbitrator has two days (48 hours) to rule on the validity of the contract.
After that, there are two things that could happen.
1. The arbitrator upholds the rejection – Kovalchuk would become an unrestricted free agent again, giving him the choice of restructuring his contract with the Devils or going with a different team. Both the Kings and – according to Gulitti – the KHL have expressed interest in Kovalchuk if he went back on the market.
2. The arbitrator validates the contract – the league would be forced to approve the contract right away.
So who knows how long this process will take? If the NHL wants to really punish Kovalchuk & Co. in a “spouse giving you the silent treatment” type passive-aggressive way, they can drag out the decision to find an arbitrator. Let’s hope that the Bettman’s crew decides to go the professional route or this might begin to resemble a slap-fight.