This could finally be it. At least that's what the Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk are hoping. Lou Lamoriello sure hopes the third time's the charm after submitting the much rumored 15-year, $100 million contract to the NHL Friday.
If it doesn't get Gary Bettman's signed stamp of approval, what's next for Kovalchuk? Should we take Russian agent Yuri Nikolaev at his word about the 48-hour deadline for a league that seems Hell bent on tossing one of their stars back to Russia where the 27 year-old sniper could wind up home in the KHL? That all depends on what comes out of today.
While this dark cloud hangs over Devil fans' heads, it also has been a huge detriment to hockey- negatively impacting other free agents who remain unsigned. That the marquee FA of this year's class could still possibly be without a contract as September looms is just nonsensical. But what else would you expect from a chaotic league intent on Armageddon II? Though if you count the post-'94 lockout, it's really No.3, which ironically enough was the last time their product was hot coming off a strong Cup with the Blackhawks ending a long drought in a great series with the Flyers.
No matter what's said out of league spin quarters, losing a player of Kovalchuk's caliber isn't good for business. Another rejection would only further draw a line in the sand, opening up a pandora's box for other stars who signed long-term deals.
Hopefully, some sanity will prevail this time. Just don't go in with too much enthusiasm.