My wife is all about the "Twilight Saga" and recently had me sit down and watch the first two movies of it. There is another one in theaters and another book to be made.
So in turn I get to teach her all about the "Kovalchuk Saga". Lets break this down chapter by chapter shall we.
Chapter 1: The Trade to the Devils
After a lengthy contract dispute with the Atlanta Thrashers it looked like Ilya wasn't going to sign, after a very public statement of what Ilya turned down from the team Don Waddell saved face and pulled of a trade with the Devils. The first chapter of the saga see's Ilya play 27 regular season games and 5 playoff games with the Devils, this is being dubbed the audition.
Chapter 2: July 1st and the weeks to follow
Leading up to free agency it was being reported that teams where trying to trade for the rights to Ilya and get the exclusive negotiation window. Amidst reports Devils GM Lou Lamoriello maintained that he was still talking to Ilya and that he believed that he was going to sign him.
While we devils fans waited and watched all we heard about was Kings GM Dean Lombardi and his courtship of Ilya. We heard about them dropping out and looking elsewhere. We then heard that they where "re-engaging" talks with the Kovalchuk camp and flying him into L.A.
We also heard of a very big offer from the Islanders, that as it turns out never really existed.
The KHL knocked on the Kovalchuk door with numerous offers.
We then got a tweet from Jay Grossman, after an initial tweet a lifetime before, stating that Ilya had made a decision and he was going to announce it shortly.
Chapter 3: The Decision and The Rejection
July 18th comes and we have a decision: The Devils. Fans of the Devils are ecstatic and the speculation begins on the term. We learn on the 19th of the term, 17 years and $102 million, giving an AAV of $6 million per year. Fans love the number and we also hear of a big press conference that will take place on the 20th. Players coming in to celibate are Captain Jamie Langenbrunner, Patrik Elias, Martin Brodeur and Zach Parise. Photo's are taken and fans are celebrating.
Later that night word creeps up that the NHL is going to reject the deal because it is no compliant and it circumvents the CBA.
Officially on the 21st we get word that the NHL does indeed reject the deal. The NHLPA now has 5 business days to file an appeal.
On the 26th we finally get word that the NHLPA has filed the grievance. We now sit and wait for a systems arbitrator to be hired.
Chapter 4: The Arbitrator and the Answer
July 30th we learn the identity of the arbiter, Richard Bloch, a New Jersey native. The hearings will start on August 3rd and will take 2 days to complete.
August 5th has come and past and the two days of hearings has come in gone. Tom Gulliti (Devils beat writer) has confirmed that to this point Kovalchuk was present at the Boston hearings, Jeff Vanderbeek (Owner) was not present and GM Lamoriello had no comment on wither he was there.
Gary Bettman also confirmed that he was not present.
The arbiter then has 48 hours to give his decision.
Today is August 9th and just after 5pm (the max time allowed) we learned the Richard Bloch has sided with the NHL and voided the contract between the Devils and Kovalchuk. More details on the rejection coming.
In the Bloch review he wrote that the "diveback" was very severe, he said that it helped, amongst other things show that there was no "intent to live out the life of the contract". Also mentioned was the fact that the NO MOVE changed to a NO TRADE which would allow the team and player to get out of the deal. Lastly, Bloch did called it a "retirement" contract, that didn't sit well.
After two weeks and many, rumored, visits to NHL headquarters and other negotiations Ilya seemed to be getting upset. It was reported on August 25th that the NHL has rejected another framework deal between Lou and Grossman. A day later a "deadline to get a deal done" was imposed by the Kovalchuk camp. The thought was that the offer from the KHL was now becoming more and more something that Ilya was considering and willing to do.
On August 27th comes news that the Devils, Ilya Kovalchuk and agent Mark Grossman have found a new framework and have submitted another deal to the league for approval. Bill Daley confirms a formal contract has been submitted and the NHL is going to exercise it's right of 5 days to review the deal in full.
We sit and wait.