The new NHL season just started on Wednesday, but star players are coming out swinging (literally), with a don’t mess with me approach. It is NHL code not to mess with a team’s talented players, and if they do teams have designated enforcers to protect them. But so far this season, the stars have been the ones taking matters into their own hands. Detroit Red Wing Pavel Datsyuk challenged Anaheim Ducks Corey Perry. Datsyuk surprised many fans at his ability to hold his own because he is a former Lady Bing winner, for the league’s most sportsmanship like player… which usually translates into being a wimp. Even the Red Wings’ opponents were talking about Datsyuk’s technique.
“I guess he really can do it all,” said Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. The Red Wings played the Blackhawks on Saturday. “He must be sick of all the trophies he’s collected at the end of every year, whether it’s the Lady Byng or the Selke awards. I’ll have to look out for him in the scrums, I guess.”
In Saturday night’s Devils Capitals game, there was a total of five fights, and Russian all-star Ilya Kovalchuk was at the helm. Devils Kovalchuk took on Capitals Mike Greene. In response, Devils coach John MacLean said, “Mike Green is one of those players trying to get something going, I guess. Ilya is a big guy. He can take care of himself.”
But Kovalchuk himself is not too worried, “Hockey is a contact sport. A fight is part of the contact. Sometimes it happens.”
Although the NHL season has just started, it is too early to tell if the league’s fighting culture is changing. In the past decade, fighting has been on the demise. With the institution of the salary cap, many teams do not have room for enforcers, but as Kovalchuk and Datsyuk have proven… they can take matters into their own hands just fine, and it makes for great TV!
On Monday, thejerseychaser.com reported that the New Jersey Devils signed Ilya Kovalchuk to a 17-year contract worth $102m. No sooner did the ink dry on the dotted line than did the NHL reject the contract.
The NHL does not believe Kovalchuk nor the Devils believe the Russian winger will serve the full 17-years and therefore are in breach of contract. This is the first contract of its kind to be overruled by the NHL. In the past, the league has investigated Chris Pronger and Marian Hossa’s contracts but did not find reasonable doubt.
The Devils now must file the contract once again or the Players’ Association can file a grievance. If a grievance is filed the contract will be determined valid by arbitration (judicial system).
Ilya Kovalchuk was this off-season’s most coveted NHL free agent, and he just resigned with the New Jersey Devils, a contract worth $102m for 17 years. If it sounds ridiculous that’s because it is…. and the NHL can’t do anything about it.
Kovalchuk was holding out on singing because the NHL’s salary cap restricted teams as to how much money they could pay the Russian winger since teams can only spend $56.8m. Instead, the Devils lured Kovalchuk with a front-loaded long term contract. At 27-years of age, Kovalchuk is no newbie to the game, and his new deal has him under contract until he is 44.
Kovalchuk is not expected to play out the entire length of his contract, which by law is illegal, but the NHL cannot prove intent. Like the contracts of Chris Pronger and Marian Hossa, Kovalchuk will be overpaid for his productive years and underpaid for his for the later ones.
NHL teams have wised up since the New York Islanders signed goaltender Rick DiPietro to a 15-year, $67.5m contract. Instead of signing a front-loaded contract, the Islanders are paying $4.5m a season, making an old and very injury plagued DiPetro difficult to move.
The good news for Islander fans who bought a DiPetro jersey… he still has 11 more years on his contract.
Ilya Valeryevich Kovalchuk (Russian: Илья́ Вале́рьевич Ковальчу́к; born April 15, 1983) is a Russian professional ice hockey left winger who currently plays for the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League. Drafted first overall in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft by the Atlanta Thrashers, he began his NHL career in 2001–02 with Atlanta and was nominated for the Calder Memorial Trophy as league rookie-of-the-year. He is a three-time NHL All-Star and won the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league’s leading goal-scorer in 2004 in a three-way tie with Jarome Iginla and Rick Nash. After eight seasons with the Thrashers, he was traded to the Devils in February 2010 and recently signed a 17-year, $102 million deal with the New Jersey Devils, which was set to expire at the end of the 2026–27 season. The contract, however, was rejected by the NHL on July 21, 2010 due to the league’s opinion that it circumvented the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. On July 21, 2010, the National Hockey League Player’s Association (NHLPA) filed a grievance on behalf of Kovalchuk to contest the issue of contract rejection, arguing that the contract was, in fact, legal, and did not violate the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. A “system arbitrator” was approved by both the NHL and NHLPA on July 31, 2010. On August 4, 2010, the court case involving this contract went underway and concluded on August 9, 2010 with the arbitrator ultimately ruling in favor of the NHL and voiding the contract, making Kovalchuk a free agent.
On September 4, 2010, the league approved a new contract from the Devils that was submitted a few days prior along with a new agreement with the NHLPA. The deal, rated at 15 years and worth $100 million, will see that Kovalchuk remains in New Jersey until the completion of the 2024-25 NHL season.
Internationally, Kovalchuk has played for Russia in the IIHF World U18 Championship, World Junior Championship, World Championship, World Cup and Winter Olympics, highlighted by back-to-back gold medals in the 2008 and 2009 World Championship.