The NHL has rejected Ilya Kovalchuk's 17-year, $102 million contract with the New Jersey Devils on the grounds that it circumvents the NHL's salary cap.
I'm not so sure this can stand up to a grievance by the NHLPA. I know that Kovalchuk spoke last night at the press conference as if playing into his 40's was a possibility. From the Newark Star-Ledger:
"When we were talking about 17 years, I said, 'Why not?' I'll be 44 and I've played with guys who played at a pretty good level at that age. I hope I keep myself in shape and can still play."
This, incidentally, is not just talk - Chris Chelios was his teammate for seven games last season, and he has also played with Scott Mellanby (40), Matthieu Schnieder (39), and Mark Recchi (39). So how does the league prove bad faith on the part of Kovalchuk or the Devils?
This is going to be another month of Sundays before it's settled. I see a grievance, and according to the TSN story, that gives an arbitrator 48 hours to rule on whether the contract is reinstated. If the arbitrator rejects the grievance, the Devils have to re-craft another cap-friendly deal, and that could take a while. Or, what's worse, they could throw up their hands in frustration and walk away - a disaster on every level - and that re-opens the door for the rest of the world.
(Kovi could always play in our rec league. Some of my teammates are pushing 50; a couple of them are pulling it. He really could play forever there.)
Settle in with some popcorn and a tall drink, folks.