All this gnashing of the teeth over the NHL ruling of Ilya Kovalchuk’s invalid contract and the subsequent investigations into the likes of Roberto Luongo, Marian Hossa, Chris Pronger and others, is a lot to do about nothing.
Most of these contracts are now a year old and why wouldn’t the NHL have questioned these at that time?
Can you image if the NHL decided to void all those contracts? What a mess it would make as everyone would be scrambling to re-structure the contracts with their salary caps already at the max or over presently.
If you look at some of these contracts most are realistic in that the player would be able to play close to the duration of it.
Chris Pronger is 35, his contract length is seven years which would make him 42 if he decided to complete it to the end. The amount does not start to tail down until he is 39 ($4 million) and drops dramatically ($525,000) in each of the final two years.
As I mentioned in a previous article, since Pronger is 35 plus even if he did retire at 39 his salary would still count against the teams salary cap.
Does he plan on retiring at 40? Who knows these days but it’s realistic that he could fulfill it until that time in his life.
It’s not uncommon these days for players with the training, nutrition and medical treatment that is available to play until they’re 40 years of age or longer.
Detroit’s Nick Lidstrom is 39 and he is playing another season, Mark Recchi of the Boston Bruins is 42 and is playing another season and Chris Chelios just retired at the age of 48, so there is a proof that this is realty maybe just not the norm.
Marian Hossa signed his 12 year contract at the age of 30 and the bulk of his deal is in the first seven years or until he is 37 and then is reduced to $4 million when he's 38 and $1 million till the end.
It makes sense that the amounts would be reduced after 37 as production starts to decrease at that time in a player’s career.
Roberto Luongo’s, who was also 30 at the time of his contract is just about identical to Hossa’s in that the length, amounts and reduction amounts happen at around the same time.
So how is it that Kovalchuk’s rejected deal, signed when he was 27 for $102 million over 17 years, is really circumventing the CBA?
Is it because of the fact that he would be 44 instead of 42 or 40 when it terminates?
If most of these players mentioned previously could play till they were 40 why wouldn’t it be realistic for Kovalchuk also?
Also if the player’s contract is guaranteed after 35 with the 35+ rule, isn’t the team locked into the amount for the salary cap anyway?
These deals are all very similar in that they are front loaded and to me that is just good business sense, which has to do with the player’s most and least productive years.
The only clause that I can see that was really challengeable was in the length and I’m sure that will be ironed out in the next CBA and with this latest ruling it now sets a precedent.
So all’s this means is that Kovalchuk and New Jersey will sit down and draw up another agreement that is shorter in length (say 10 years) but averages out to the same amount and cap hit.
If Kovalchuk doesn’t like the numbers than the NHL would lose an exciting young player in the prime of his life to the KHL.
Now it’s the fans that really lose.