So now are we finally approaching a resolution to the Ilya Kovalchuk circus? With word coming out just a couple hours ago that a second contract was sent to the league for approval that supposedly addresses the NHL's concerns maybe we're finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Of course, we won't know for certain until the league gives its official stamp of approval or second (and likely final) rejection, which they have five days to decide.
Either way it's seemed since yesterday that the tipping point was just around the corner when the KHL rumors started to heat up again with word that Kovy's Russian agent put a call into the KHL president and let him know his client was frustrated with the NHL and was now interested in the KHL's hassle and tax-free money. With a self-imposed deadline of 24-48 hours, maybe this threat was designed to put pressure on the NHL to approve this final deal.
Sure enough after this news came a statement from a defiant Bill Daly who vowed that the threat of losing a player to the KHL, even a star in the prime of his career wouldn't sway the NHL from doing what was right which is utter nonsense since if that star player was named Crosby or Ovechkin the league would be bending over backwards trying to make it work. Not to mention the utter hypocrisy of a league who doesn't call farming out Cristobal Huet to Switzerland a cap circumvention but god forbid we try to get a long-term deal done with front-loaded money, that's cap circumvention!
Make no mistake about it, there won't be a third attempt made after this, really there can't be. Even if Kovy's bluffing about going to the KHL should this latest contract also be rejected, it's extremely likely that a second rejection would then be followed by fines and/or cap penalties that would make it prohibitive for the Devils to even attempt to sign Kovalchuk again. If this goes badly again there's plenty of blame to go around for all sides as I wrote in my last entry a couple days ago, but the black eye will be more glaring on the league than anywhere else.
As negative as I am about this league part of me still has hope that the NHL will do the right thing and accept this deal. Really the league has too much to lose here, having Kovy go over to the KHL will give them instant credibility and lead to other stars bolting, especially if the NHL is going to continue writing contracts for other teams as well since they think arbitrator Richard Bloch's contreversial decision now gives them imperial power to decide term limits and how much money can be front-loaded (stuff the CBA doesn't actually give the league power over). Not to mention other owners might start to put pressure on Gary Bettman to get this deal done since they don't want to face the same hassle with their own players down the road.
Even should the league accept this contract though, I'm also worried about whether we gave in and threw up some ridiculous 12-96 type deal to get it done. It didn't seem like Kovy was willing to compromise despite the fact the Devils were already getting penalized with a higher cap hit, why else would another deal have even taken more than two weeks when both sides had a month to mull over possible Plan B's? However, TSN believes the deal will be for 15-100 which would be a (get ready for this irony) $6.66 million cap hit, and that I wouldn't have an issue with at all though I'm somewhat skeptical of that number since this could have been done six weeks ago quite honestly, without any hassle.
In any case, this whole thing has just been so un-Devil like I'll just be glad when it's finally over and we can get back to being passionate over things that matter, like wins and losses instead of contracts and hearings. If this thing breaks tomorrow, I won't be around either way so don't worry people, I won't throw myself off the GW Bridge in the event of a final rejection (though I may try to bash my head through a wall in total frustration over the combination of this and the Revis fiasco in Jet-land) and I won't have died of shock in the event of a thumbs up. Rest assured I will be back once this thing gets decided with more thoughts, especially once the terms of the second deal become public knowledge.