The NHL has averted a showdown with its players, approving Ilya Kovalchuk’s 15-year $100-milllion contract with the New Jersey Devils in exchange for changes that would prevent such deals in the future. The agreement will reportedly “grandfather” in Kovalchuk’s pact, along with those of other players whose long-term deals were seen as attempts to end-run the salary cap. They include those of Marian Hossa (Chicago), Roberto Luongo (Vancouver) and Marc Savard (Boston). The agreed upon remedy isn’t yet known, but the league had reportedly suggested one that took the player’s age into consideration. The NHL currently records a player’s cap hit by averaging his salary according to the number of years in his deal, and that resulted in contracts that paid richly in the first few years, then tailed off dramatically during the latter seasons of the player’s career. The league reportedly wants to stop that practice by excluding from the averaging calculation the years after the player turns 40. The change would presumably discourage teams from writing contracts with terms much longer than a player is expected to actually play—as was the case with Kovalchuk.
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