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Added August 4th, 2010 by Chalk

Kovalchuk Hearing Underway, Decision Could Come Friday

The Ilya Kovalchuk hearing is underway in Boston, as an arbitrator tries to determine if the NHL was correct in rejecting the 17-year, $102 million contract the New Jersey Devils tried to give the forward.  Testimony is expected to wrap on Thursday, with a decision coming Friday, Saturday or Monday.  Kovalchuk is delaying a trip to Russia in order to testify, so the decision may be influenced by how convincing he can be of his desire to play from age 40 to 44 for just $550,000 per year.

Most oddsmakers think the NHL is going to lose this battle, but if not, the Devils could face a fine of $1.5 million and an equivalent salary cap hit and Kovalchuk himself could get hit with a fine of as much as $1 million.  Either way, hockey free agency will be affected for at least two more years until the league’s collective bargaining agreement is again up for negotiation.  There’s even talk of another lockout.

Another consequence of the league winning would be Kovalchuk getting thrown back into the free agency waters.  The Los Angeles Kings are reportedly willing to take another crack at the Russian goal scorer if they get the chance.

Still you got to think the Devils are pretty confident they’ll win the arbitration hearing, otherwise why take the risk?  Reports continue to surface that the Devils had been warned by the league that the deal would get rejected not just before the press conference but before the contract was announced.

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