You may recall back in December that the NHL was investigating whether or not Marc Savard's front-loaded, cap-friendly contract extension violated the "spirit of the CBA". Then, time passed and we just assumed that the NHL had given this move their seal of approval. Well, it turns out that the NHL has been investigating this situation all along...or so they say. Either that or a certain team from New Jersey tried to signed a certain Russian superstar to a 17 year, $102 million deal, which drew a red flag to other front-loaded contracts.
Arbiter Richard Bloch ruled in favor of the NHL in Ilya Kovalchuk's recent arbitration case, voiding Kovalchuk's 17-year deal with the New Jersey Devils. Bloch ruled that the 17-year, $102 million contract circumvented the league's contract regulations under Article 26 of the NHL's collective bargaining agreement. One of the main points of contention is that the contract extends until Kovalchuk is 44 years old, which is significantly longer than the average NHL career, thus full performance of the contract is unlikely.
Globe & Mail hockey scribe and the former Godfather of SBN Hockey, James Mirtle wrote that Bloch noted that contracts of several other NHL players are being looked at by the league including Marc Savard, Roberto Luongo, Chris Pronger, and Marian Hossa. All of these deals were approved and registered with the league, but since they have not gone into effect yet could still be voided.
Bruins' General Manager, Peter Chiarelli released the following statement regarding Marc Savard's 7-year, $28 million extension:
"We are cooperating fully with the League in its investigation of the Marc Savard contract extension. The League informed us upon their registration of the contract on December 1, 2009 that they would be investigating the circumstances surrounding this contract. From that point on, they commenced their investigation and it has been ongoing since then. On August 4th, I met with two League appointed lawyers as part of the investigation. We will continue to cooperate with the League in any future investigative proceedings if necessary and we will have no further comment on the matter at this time."
The NHL is in a no-win situation here. If they push forward with investigating these "loophole" contracts, they look like they are back-peddling on decisions they made months ago and leave teams scrambling to fill out their rosters late in the off-season. If they let these deals go through and not allow the Kovalchuk deal, it gives the appearance that they are not being fair.
I just don't see anyway that they can overturn contracts that were already signed and registered with the league office. The Kovalchuk deal was challenged by the league immediately and was never registered. I think that is the big difference between Marc Savard's situation and Ilya Kovalchuk's.
The truth is that this is a major loophole in the CBA and it was only a matter of time before something like this happened, but let's be honest, Lou Lamoriello ruined it for everyone. 17 years? Really, Lou? He is like the idiot, drunken freshman that tried to drink a handle of Rubinoff, got his stomach pumped, and instantly turned your dorm into a dry building. Way to go, Lou!