Thursday, August 12, 2010

NHL "Witch Hunts" Long-term Contracts That May Violate CBA

Roberto Luongo, Marian Hossa, and Rick DiPietro had their names circulated in the press this summer's off season, but not for good reason. It seems that once the Kovalchuk deal set a precedent in the arbitration hearings, the result could possibly have the rest of the long-term contracts tumbling down like an avalanche.

After the lock out, the key word that was always thrown around on the lips of every hockey person was "cost certainty" and the line is now being drawn as to just what is the cause to the escalating salaries - the kind of salaries that are unmanageable and often create a strain on GMs who try to trade the unproductive players.

The one contract that really sticks out in this debate is what to do about the contracts before they pay out. Sure, they were once approved, but can they become retroactively dissolved given the ruling that the NHL was recently awarded in the Kovalchuk case. Marian Hossa's contract is a similar deal, but his contract has already been payed out on it's first year. Will the NHL front office demand that Hossa pay back a portion of that salary or will the BlackHawks be penalized?

But some other fans and journalists have viewed this perhaps as a blessing in disguise. Roberto Luongo, who has not been quite able to deliver what the hockey fans in Vancouver were promised, has a similar long-term deal that could be seriously looked at after the Canucks continue to run out of gas in the post-season. Could the Vancouver owners use this as leverage so that Luongo's contract may not discourage future teams trade value? Should Roberto's contract be looked at as a salary cap violation if he does not hold up his end of the bargain?

This is a new territory and a new NHL that the league now has perspective on. Anything the NHL front office does from here on out, will most likely be seen as casting a precedent for future collective bargaining agreements or contract negotiations in general.
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