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Added July 27th, 2010 by Chalk

Kovalchuk Contract Appealed, Devils Face Punishment

On Monday, the NHL Players Association filed a grievance against the league for rejecting the historic 17-year, $102 million contract the Devils gave Ilya Kovalchuk.  Once an arbitrator is chosen, a decision should come within 48 hours.  Should the arbitrator side with the NHL and reject the contract, the Devils could face big fines and possibly loss of draft picks.

Punishment might be harsher because of the circumstances surrounding the press conference the Devils threw to announce the deal. The Devils knew the league was going to reject the contract before they held the press conference, and yet they still trotted Kovalchuk out to get their good press while the getting was good.  It’s not like there was a jury pool to influence, but the NHL and commissioner Gary Bettmann surely didn’t appreciate it.

The stunt could have big consequences for the Devils.  The Star-Ledger reports that if the NHL wins the arbitratiion battle, the Devils could be fined as much as $5 million — and the entire fine would count against the salary cap.  The Devils could also lose one or more draft picks.

The NHL obviously wants to take a stand on respecting the salary cap — and if they really want to do that, they’ll need to do more than just reject contracts, they will need to make an example.

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