The case for Ilya Kovalchuk has concluded, with both the NHL and the Players’ Association concluding their final arguments on Thursday. Arbitrator Richard Bloch spent the past few days listening to both sides defend their position on the league’s rejections of Kovi’s 17 year, $102 million contract.
The NHL contends the contract’s length puts Kovalchuk at 44 when when it expires, and they do not believe he will still be playing by then. They claim that the length is just to draw out the money the Devils intend to pay him to lower the average salary across the length of the contract to roughly $6 million a season, even though the Devils will be paying him $10 and $11 million for a number of years.
The Devils and , by proxy, the Players’ Association, contend that this is not true, and that they have every intention of seeing Kovalchuk play out his entire contract.
The real sticking point, since there isn’t a true way to determine how long a player will actually play aside from wait-and-see, is whether or not the Devils are trying to circumvent the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) set in place by the league and must be abided by the General Managers and Players.
The argument from the NHLPA is that there is no language in the CBA that states the league has the right to make such a judgment, and with no set measurement in place, the league has no authority to revoke the contract between Ilya and the Devils.
The hockey world will now have to sit and wait – most likely the maximum 48 hours Bloch is allowed – to mull over the testimony from both sides. That’s through Friday and Monday. It is possible we see a decision sooner than Monday, but not very likely.