Yesterday during the press conference to announce the ludicrous 17 year, $102 million contract between Ilya Kovalchuk and the New Jersey Devils, Lou Lamoriello voiced he was not a “fan” of the deal himself.
Lamoriello stated he rolled his eyes at the DiPietro and Ovechkin contracts, each similar to Kovy’s deal, but less severe. Moreover, those deals are believable. By no stretch of the imagination did anyone believe Kovalchuk would be playing until the age of 44.
So why did Lou go through with such a deal? “You’d have to speak to ownership about that,” said Lamoriello. What?! Isn’t it your job as General Manager to advise the ownership on what is and is not prudent in terms of the signing of players? Well, you can blame Lou and say he didn’t want to go against ownership and lose his job. Or you can blame the CBA for being totally vague. The CBA doesn’t get specific on what would be deemed a contract made with the “intent to circumvent”, it simply says if the league feels the contract is bogus, they’ll call it out. If the league approved other monster deals, why not this one?
What Lou did was open the window for the league to jump in. He gave them all they needed to finally speak out on one of these mega-deals. It’s a rule of thumb similar in many areas of life; don’t ever admit wrongdoing. Although Lou didn’t exactly admit doing anything wrong, his own doubt paved the way to the NHL’s rejection. All they need to do is cite Lou’s own misgivings about the deal. How can anyone refute that?
Everyone seemed to think this deal would squeak by, just as all of the other deals did. I’m sure the New Jersey ownership felt the time was now to get this done with the next round of the CBA looming a few years off. These mega-deals would be addressed and no more cap-circumvention. However, the league felt this was the deal that broke the CBA’s back and called it bogus.
From what I gather, the next step is that the NHL must impose a penalty. Once that penalty is determined, the NHLPA can file a grievance. Then an arbiter will look at the penalty and determine whether it is fair or not. The penalty can go from $1mm-5mm in both a fine and cap reduction, and the contract can be deemed void (still researching this, so don’t quote me).
More on this as it comes in. Stay posted on Twitter @EricCooney.
About the Author
Written by Eric Cooney
Eric Cooney was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina, and lives in Los Angeles, CA. He shares his thoughts on the NHL as one man who is a northerner, southerner, east coaster, and west coaster. Follow him on Twitter @EricCooney