NHL 1, Kovalchuk 0
5 o’clock came and went with no mention of the arbitrator’s ruling regarding the grievance that the NHLPA filed on behalf of Kovalchuk. But shortly thereafter, the announcement finally came down: the arbitrator had ruled in favor of the NHL, striking down Kovalchuk’s absurdly-structured contract. I, for one, think it’s the right move.
So the NHL made a mistake in allowing Pronger’s and Hossa’s deals. But they made it damn clear they wouldn’t let that kind of bullcrap slide again, and even though it went to an arbitrator, it didn’t.
The NHL needed this win to lay the ground work for more specific anti-circumvention dialog in the next CBA. The problem with the wording in the current, soon-to-expire CBA is that a lot of it is entirely too vague. With this debacle, the league can go about wording the regulations regarding these ridiculous contracts much more stringently.
Unfortunately, no matter the ruling, both sides would be readying their camps for battle. It’s going to be an ugly battle going into the next CBA’s negotiating phase.