NHLPA files grievance over Kovalchuk deal

July 27, 2010

The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) has filed a grievance over the league’s decision to reject the US$102 million, 17-year contract between Ilya Kovalchuk and the New Jersey Devils.

The NHL initially rejected the contract last week saying it violated strict salary cap rules in place.

But the NHLPA has disputed that belief, saying that under the collective bargaining agreement, the union and Kovalchuk are entitled to an expedited resolution.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement: “Although there is no defined timetable at this point, we intend to work with the Players’ Association to ensure an expeditious  resolution of this dispute. The league looks forward to the opportunity to establish its position before the arbitrator.”

Kovalchuk’s deal was initially rejected because he was set to earn US$550,000 in each of the last five years of the contract, whereas he was set to earn US$98.5 million in the first eleven years of the deal.

By extending Kovalchuk’s contract, and paying him less money late in the deal, the Devils lowered their salary cap to US$6 million annually.

Other similar long-term deals have been signed without incident, although none of them are as long, or taper as sharply as Kovalchuk’s.