Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tin-Foiling The Kovalchuk Decision

Before I start, I will say that this will be something out there, something that probably is so far away from being true that if you believe-- you're a silly goose. That said, this is what came across my crazy mind while trying to deal with my everyday night stocking job. As you know, I'm not normally of the tin-foil hat brigade; but this is my venture into that situation.

With the decision to void the 17-year contract the New Jersey Devils gave to Ilya Kovalchuk, it makes me wonder if this is just another line of things that has really gone crazy this summer in the free agent market. Especially considering the guy who gave Kovalchuk the contract, I almost wonder if it's some kind of "Arrested Development" situation.

How is that?? Well, that's because the players (Kovalchuk in this case) are making a big commotion for wanting long-term contracts and big money as they play the role of the Bluth children. In this case, the owners were being represented by Lou Lamoriello as he played the role of George Bluth Sr. and got all distracted as the kids are making said commotion. All the while, the NHL played the role of J. Walter Weatherman and being the set-up man and stopping the Bluth kids complaining and proving the point that other owners and GMs wanted to in the first place.

Yes, it's a stretch, but the point is valid. For many owners and critics; the long-term, front-loaded deals are something that are getting out hand and in this instance, finally called to the table and challenged. Now, with this whole thing, other contracts have been now re-opened and looked at with a fine-toothed comb. Roberto Luongo is one that has been confirmed as being looked at. Yet, why did it take so long for something like this to be challenged and for this to be come a big issue. Sure, it's been looked at prior and pushed to the wayside with the conclusion that it's nothing that is a problem; yet with this contract, immediate action was taken and rejected out of hand.

All the while, the talk was why would Lamoriello, a guy very close to Gary Bettman when it comes to advising and being a strong voice for the Board of Governors, pull a contract like this-- especially after it was rumored that Bettman told Lamoriello it would get rejected if he actually signed Kovalchuk to this offer. For a guy who Bettman's trust with his opinion; it almost seems like a set-up and a way for Bettman/NHL to set an example for the other owners who may have done this before and those who were thinking about doing this in the future. Who else to use for an example than a guy who is held in the high regard and showing that if the NHL is going to do it to a guy like Lamoriello, they will do it to anyone who tries to pull something like this again.

Even with this as an example, it's a way the NHL is trying to save the owners from themselves in giving these long-term, front-loaded contracts. Now, they have the guideline and know that the NHL will actually start to stick up for themselves and not sit on the sidelines when it comes to some of these outrageous contracts that have happened recently. The big issue, I suppose, was the huge drop-off of the contract in the end. It's not like Mike Richards, who does have a drop-off, but nothing that's as drastic as Kovalchuk's and Richards' is a slow decline and nothing out of the ordinary.

Granted, the odds that the Devils will restructure and get Kovalchuk under contract before the month is up is very good; but it just adds to the whole mantra of this off-season, where the strange things get stranger by the day. It's a small win for the NHL and actually makes them look strong, even though you kind of saw it coming (if you're not a Devils fan, of course). Plus, gives me a chance to throw an "Arrested Development" reference in there.

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