Everyone who breathes is weighing in on the NHL’s decision to void Ilya Kovalchuk’s 17-year deal with New Jersey.
Here are two Bruins-related thoughts on the matter from me.
•Those conspiracy theorists that are convinced the NHL is always out to get the Bruins should be quieted a bit by the league’s decision to clamp down on these salary cap-evading “lifetime contracts” now rather than last December. Obviously Marc Savard’s contract was just another in a long list of deals signed by a player that had no chance of completing the contract (Miikka Kiprusoff, Marian Hossa and others had already set the standard). But the league could’ve easily looked at the fact that Savard, at 38 and 39 years old, is scheduled to make just $525,000 (according to CapGeek.com) in the last two years of his deal and called Boston’s bluff. The only thing that would keep a guy playing at that age for that money would be about three more marriages and divorces.
We can debate all day whether the NHL is right to suddenly close up that CBA loophole. However, this incident at least proves the league isn’t just out to get the Bruins.
•Most experts seem to think this situation will be resolved by the Devils and Kovalchuk’s camp reworking the deal. It’ll be worth watching how they go about doing that. After July 1, it seemed like the Bruins’ best bet to re-sign Zdeno Chara, and to a lesser extent Patrice Bergeron, was a Kovalchuk-like front-loaded deal that would fit into the team’s cap structure. Now the Bruins and the agents for the club’s top two 2011 unrestricted free agents know the league isn’t afraid to a void a deal it thinks insults the integrity of the CBA.
This doesn’t make it impossible to get those important extensions done, it just makes it a little tougher, especially in light of the deals Chiarelli has granted several supporting players in advance of extensions for his two foundation players.