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Report: NHL may fine the Devils over Kovalchuk contract

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The strange and unprecedented journey that is the Ilya Kovalchuk story continues to take some more strange turns. Mark Everson of the New York Post reports today that the NHL may be considering taking action against the Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk for their potentially cap circumventing contract.

A league source said the NHL is not threatening, but also not dismissing the possibility that the Devils might be liable for a fine of at least $1 million. The fine could go up to $5 million should an arbitrator finds that their $102 million, 17-year contract is indeed a circumvention of the collective bargaining agreement.

In addition, Kovalchuk himself conceivably could be liable to a fine between $250G and $1 million.

I can’t imagine that the NHL would have the nerve to fine a team for signing a player to a contract that was found to be within the rules of the league’s collective bargaining agreement. Then again, who knew that they’d have the gall to reject Kovalchuk’s contract in the first place. They’d have a bit more of a leg to stand on for fining the Devils if the contract is rejected by an arbitrator because they’d at least have the backing of a judge.

As for the whole issue with the NHLPA filing a grievance, tomorrow is the last day they have to file one and it’s almost a certainty that a grievance will be filed against the NHL for rejecting the contract. Then it’s up to both sides to find a “systems arbitrator” to hash out the issue or just have the Devils and Kovalchuk work something else out until then. Should the situation go to an arbitrator, that could take some time to get settled as the two sides don’t have one in place and would need to find someone agreeable to settle the situation.

The bureaucracy never ends.