(NEWAK, NJ) – Ilya Kovalchuk is once again an unrestricted free agent as systems arbitrator Richard Bloch has determined the NHL was within its legal right to reject the 17-year, $102 million contract Kovalchuk signed with the New Jersey Devils in July.
Bloch heard arguments from both the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association, which filed a grievance on Kovalchuk’s behalf, over two days in Boston last week. His decision came late Monday afternoon. As a result of Bloch’s ruling, Kovalchuk immediately returns to unrestricted free agent status.
Upon announcing the contract was rejected, NHL Deputy Commissioner said the League would not approve it because it was a “circumvention of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.”
The Devils can choose to re-work the contract in hopes of getting it approved, or Kovalchuk could look elsewhere.
New Jersey Devils President/CEO/General Manager Lou Lamoriello today issued the following statement in response to Arbitrator Richard Bloch’s decision in regard to the team’s contract with Ilya Kovalchuk:
“We have reviewed and respect Arbitrator Bloch’s ruling in the Kovalchuk matter. We also note and appreciate his finding that nothing in his opinion should be read as suggesting that either the club or Ilya Kovalchuk operated in bad faith or on the basis of any assumption other than that the Standard Player Contract was fully compliant with the CBA. That has been our consistent position throughout.
“While we do not currently have a contract with Ilya Kovalchuk, discussions have resumed and we are hopeful that a contract will be reached that meets with the principles in Arbitrator Bloch’s award and the NHL’s approval.”