After a couple of months off we're finally back for the 2010-11 season. The biggest topic of the past few weeks in the NHL has undoubtedly been Ilya Kovalchuk.
Richard Bloch ruled in favour of the NHL and decided to void Kovalchuk's contract. I think most people agree that this was the correct decision but what I don't understand is why it wasn't done before. The NHL has realized its mistake and is now looking back at similar contracts: Roberto Luongo, Marc Savard, Chris Pronger and Marian Hossa.
Instead of putting a vague clause saying:
"Article 26(3) allows for a finding of circumvention if the intention of the parties was to circumvent the CBA OR if the net effect of the deal, intention aside, was to get around the CBA."
Why not put in something like on a 3-year contract every season must be at least 25% of the total contract, 20% for 4 years and so on. This means that on a 4 year deal worth 20 million, the most front-loaded contract possible would be 8 million in the first year and 4 million in the final three. Pretty simple and solves a lot of problems. You might argue that the NHL didn't see this coming but it wasn't too hard to predict. Maybe not 10-12 year deals but a 7-year front-loaded deal like Marc Savard should have been predictable.
Here are thoughts from a few other bloggers:
-Eric Macramalla from "Offside: A Sports Law Blow" analyzes the decision in depth
-Winging It In Motown argues that the NHL shouldn't be able to go this. I have to say I agree with this and especially this part: "The teams and the players should have a right to know exactly what they're allowed to do."
-Jewels from the Crown has a few nice quotes from arbitrator Richard Bloch.
-Puck Daddy also writes an article saying that this whole situation is a joke.
-Pro Hockey Talk discusses the fallout from this and the investigations of the four other contracts.
Here are some articles from local sources regarding the other four contracts:
-Marc Savard - Boston Globe
-Chris Pronger - Flyer Flies
-Roberto Luongo - Vancouver Sun
-Marian Hossa - Chicago Now