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Monday Morning Musings With Me The Big E; Kovi Decision & More

Eric WarrenCorrespondent IIAugust 9, 2010

CHICAGO - MAY 03: Commissioner Gary Bettman of the National Hockey League speaks at a press conference before the Chicago Blackhawks take on the Vancouver Canucks in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center on May 3, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Aaaaah Gary Bettman has a face for radio doesn't he?

All kidding aside, the arbitrators ruling on the NHL and Gary Bettmans cancelling of the Ilya Kovalchuk contract looks to finally be coming down by as early as today.

It also appears from the rumblings I've heard that the arbitrator is likely to rule in favor of the NHLPA and Kovalchuk.

I hope that for the integrity of the game this isn't true, and this is also likely the one and only time you will ever read that I am on the same page as Mr. Bettman.

If the NHL lose's this case, there will likely be a myriad of ludicrous signings in the next week. The first one will most likely be the Ducks signing Bobby Ryan for 15 years and 95 million.

Next, the Leafs will re-sign veteran defenseman Tomas Kaberle to a 10 year, sixty million dollar contract and lock up Phil Kessel and Nazem Kadri to twenty year, 120 million dollar deals.

Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne are also likely awaiting the decision, not because they can't decide whether they still want to play or not, but why settle for 1 year at 3 million when they could get 10 years and seven million?

Alright, I digress, perhaps I'm getting a little more than sarcastic, but you get the point. This decision will be disastrous for the NHL.

Either way, there is no way owners will be able to do this when the new CBA is hammered out.

Bettman must just want to slap New Jersey GM Lou Lamoriello across the head with a brick. 

You see, Lou Lamoriello was one of the staunchest supporters of the new CBA when it was inked in 2005 and was instrumental in it's design. When he had the press conference announcing that he had signed Kovalchuk to a 17 year, 102 million dollar deal, it must have felt like a slap in the face to Bettman.

Which makes you wonder why Lucky Lou would do it in the first place. It isn't like he changed his stance over night.

Many in the media believe that he was basically forced to do it by the ownership against his will. If that is the case, why not come out and say it? Is he afraid of losing his job? I can think of about 28 other teams in the league that would salivate at the prospect of Lou Lamoriello being on the market.

The whole thing just doesn't make any sense.

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Over the last couple of days there has also been rumbling that the NHL is about to lose a couple more players to the KHL.

Most notably Anti Neimi, as well as Chicago's Cristobal Huet. While I'm not sure how the Blackhawks can make a deal with a European team for Huet, his agent Stephen Bartlett has stated, 

"It almost becomes a case that for him to remain in the NHL, there has to be a combination of either someone getting hurt or something unusual happening, opening the door," he said. "Short of that, you have to suck it up and find an alternative outside of the league.". NHL.com

My good friend Mark Ritter summed up the KHL rather eloquently and in short believes that the majority of NHL players that are choosing the (not really) rival league is for one of three reasons.

The money. It seems as though some players aren't against wearing some kind of  logo on every single piece of open uniform fabric possible. If the NHL adopted this kid of aggressiveness in advertising, there wouldn't be one market in the whole league that lost money!

They can play closer to home. Bullsh___!

The overall game itself is less physical and may allow them to play a few more years where as the constant pounding their bodies receive in the NHL do not. Hey, I can totally see that, if I could do half the work for twice the money and have someone carry me around when I did it, I would be there!

One thing that people in general agree on when it comes to the KHL is that the overall product is not even close to the NHL in quality.

That depends on how you like your hockey.

If you like to watch a free flowing, fast paced game with some flashiness and some really, really cool plays, you can. But if you're like me, and I suspect most of my readers are, you prefer the NHL.

The long and the short of it is this: a 30 team league can't sustain itself, even with the cap teams are losing money, and they are losing money because the bottom line is that they are in markets that will NEVER be hockey markets.

I hope the KHL gives the NHL a serious run for it's money because it's the only way Bettman will ever cut the dead weight from the league. He will have to.

If the KHL starts giving Bettman a run for his money, the NHL will not be able to have a salary cap and still compete with the KHL in regard to player salaries, but the NHL will never agree to not have a hard cap if it insists on trying to throw a life line to franchise's who should have long ago suffered horrific deaths.

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