The NHL let the Marian Hossa, Henrik Zetterberg, and Johan Franzen contracts (among others) slide. Three contracts that were brutally, in-your-face, saying “Screw you, we’re gonna cheat the cap.”
Today the NHL grew a pair and rejected the contract of Ilya Kovalchuk signing with the New Jersey Devils for 17 years and $102 million. This move was circumventing the salary cap in such a way that they just had to come in and end the nonsense. It is one thing to lock a player up, but to sign him until his 44th birthday? Come on. Gary Bettman is dumb, but he’s not that dumb.
Kovalchuk technically becomes a free agent again, but he will sign with the Devils. Only problem is, just after a nice happy press conference at the Prudential Center this morning, the Devils have to draw up a new game-plan, one that will have to deal with the 40-goal scorer having a cap hit of above $6 million.
The original cap hit would have made it easy for the Devils to retain RFA Zach Parise next season, but a new deal will in all likelihood make the new hit in the neighborhood of what we were all expecting, somewhere between $7-8 million.
Lou Lamoriello thought he cheated the system, but he got nailed for it. These are two events never before seen in the NHL before, first with the contract, then the rejection.
We will now anxiously await for comments from both parties, but they better get the bleep button ready when they talk to Lamoriello.
Perhaps the dignity of the NHL, which I thought had long vanished, is still hanging around. Once again, bravo to the NHL.