If you like hockey but haven’t been paying attention to the Ilya Kovalchuk contract saga, now might be the time to take notice. The New York Post says the NHL has extended a carrot-and-stick offer the players’ association over the 15-year, $100-million contract the New Jersey Devils submitted in hopes of keeping the star winger. Suffice to say, the stick is a helluva lot bigger than the carrot. You may recall the league rejected an earlier 17-year contract on the grounds it was an end-run around the salary
cap, a decision that was upheld by an arbitrator. According to the Post‘s beat man Larry Brooks, the league is willing to grandfather in Kovalchuk’s deal, along with similar front-loaded contracts held by Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo and Chicago forward Marian Hossa. In exchange, the players must agree to CBA amendments which would make such deals impossible in the future. And if the Players’ Association says no? The league will void the Luongo deal and launch an investigation into the Hossa contract. Another intriguing development: though he has not yet been announced as their union boss, former baseball union man Donald Fehr is directing the players in these negotiations. Or so says Brooks. Fehr is regarded as the one man capable of giving NHL commish Gary Bettman a run for his money in the brinksmanship department. Are we in for another hockey labour war?
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