In their report, TSN mentions section 26.3 of the CBA which alludes to the NHLâ€™s right to reject a deal upon suspicion of circumvention. There’s just one problem: Kovalchuk’s contract didnâ€™t outwardly violate any payroll or term stipulations in the CBA (which are outlined in section 50).
In other words, the Devils have NHLPA has an excellent case to file a grievance. Sure, the league suspects circumvention, but how can they actually prove it when the terms of the contract conform to the existing stipulations of the CBA? Not to mention the league has in past seasons allowed equally-suspicious contracts to the likes of Hossa, Luongo, Zetterberg, Franzen and Pronger, among others. Or the fact that Chris Chelios was playing in the league last season at the tender age of 47.
Parsing the CBA: Term limits on contracts? None. Mandatory retirement age? None. Limits on individual contracts extending beyond a certain age limit? None.Â By all technical measures, the contract conforms to the CBA as it is written. The ethics of the contract may be called into question, but how can those accusations be proven when there is no specific violation of the agreement, when similar contracts have already been approved, and when players have played well into their 40s as recently as last season?
This is going to get real ugly, real fast.Â There is absolutely no way this can end well for the league, regardless of the final ruling.