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Chris Chelios

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In their report, TSN mentions section 26.3 of the CBA which alludes to the NHL’s right to reject a deal upon suspicion of circumvention. There’s just one problem: Kovalchuk’s contract didn’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.  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.  There is absolutely no way this can end well for the league, regardless of the final ruling.

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    One would be forgiven for trying to avoid the latest behind-the-scenes circus to befall the league and its players association. Amid the ongoing and incredulous tug of ego’s taking place at the now infamous Phoenix courthouse, Paul Kelly, Executive Director of the NHLPA was fired after a ten hour marathon of meetings in Chicago on Sunday.

    Kelly, who was thought to support expansion or relocation back into the Canadian market, was reportedly relieved of his duties following an expensive, ramshackle and unconstitutional investigation fronted by interim ombudsman Buzz Hargrove.

    The investigation cited internal disputes surrounding Kelly’s direction, a lack of face time with the members of the union and an deep rooted belief that Kelly was becoming too close to the NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and his deputy Bill Daly.

    Resulting in a vote of no confidence from the 30 players who make up the NHLPA’s executive board, Kelly’s position within the union was terminated after just 22 months in office and Ian Penny, former second in command as General Counsel, was installed as the interim executive director.

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      Celebrating a decade of squandered potential and faded dreams, the draft of 1999 turned out shallower than an infant’s paddling pool, yet despite being regarded as an acrimonious footnote in league history the draft of ’99 also served as an unlikely backdrop to one of the most meticulously engineered pre-draft coups ever.