(NEWARK, NJ) – The verdict in the Ilya Kovalchuk arbitration case should be coming in sometime Monday. When arbitrator Richard Bloch makes his ruling public is when we’ll know if the Russian sniper can settle in New Jersey or if he’ll be put on the open market once again.
Bloch heard arguments last Thursday and Friday in Boston for and against the 17-year, $102 million contract Kovalchuk signed with the Devils in mid-July. The NHL, which rejected the contract, contends it circumvents the Collective Bargaining Agreement while the Devils and the NHLPA believe the contract falls within the rules of the CBA.
It is up to Bloch to determine if the NHL was within its legal right to reject the contract.
If Bloch rules in favor of the League then Kovalchuk immediately will return to unrestricted free agent status. If Bloch rules in favor of the NHLPA, and thus the Devils and Kovalchuk, then the League must immediately approve the contract.
There is the possibility that Bloch rules in favor of the League, but the Devils and Kovalchuk, along with his agent, Jay Grossman, re-work the contract and present it again the NHL for approval.
The Devils and Kovalchuk announced his signing at a gala press conference at Prudential Center on July 19, but one day later Daly made his statement announcing that the League rejected the contract “as a circumvention of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.”
The NHLPA on July 26 announced that it had “filed a grievance disputing the NHL’s rejection of the Standard Player Contract between the New Jersey Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk.”
As a result of the NHLPA’s grievance, the League and the Players’ Association had to jointly agree upon a “system arbitrator” to rule on the matter. Bloch, a New Jersey native and Washington D.C. resident who has ruled on several arbitration cases within the NHL in the past, was chosen.