No, you’re not experiencing déjà vu. It’s Decision Day Deadline Day for Ilya Kovalchuk and the Devils, when the league and the NHL Players Association will might announce a verdict on the Kovy contract and other long-term deals under scrutiny by the NHL. Or they could delay the decision. Again.
The only certainty is that, by 5 p.m. Friday, the league will announce something about the status of its negotiations with the NHLPA concerning the future treatment of long-term contracts. As reported Wednesday night by the Post, Kovalchuk’s 15-year, $100 million pact with the Devils hangs in the balance.
Tom Gulitti sets the stage over at Fire and Ice, quoting a source last night as saying it’s too early to tell if the sides will reach an agreement by the 5 p.m. deadline. Another deadline extension would almost certainly push the decision beyond the holiday weekend. That could be problematic if previous reports are accurate that Kovalchuk's camp has the Devils on a deadline of their own and that he may play the season in Russia if it is not met. The Kontinental Hockey League begins its season Sept. 8. (A little more on that in the Morning Links below.)
ESPN’s Scott Burnside had heard from another source Thursday night that the NHL and NHLPA were close to an accord that would make both sides look good.
Gulitti also notes that the NHLPA has begun preparing a grievance to be filed on behalf of Kovalchuk should the deal again be disallowed. That would send the contract back to arbitration.
SI’s Jim Kelley says that while it seems the league is muscling around the NHLPA, Commissioner Gary Bettman has a lot to lose if the Kovalchuk contract goes back to an arbitrator.
In Lou We Trust assigns some blame to the parties involved in the Kovy contract fiasco, and finds that the majority lies with the NHL.
A KHL vice president says the offer to Kovalchuk still stands, but that he expects him to remain in the NHL.