Kovalchuk decision will have huge repercussions

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:07 AM ET

What does Lou Lamoriello do now?

Well, forget the New Jersey Devils general manager doing the kozachok, that squatting leg-kick Russian-style happy dance, after arbitrator Richard Bloch upheld the NHL’s rejection of Ilya Kovalchuk’s monster 17-year, $102-million US contract.

They might be partying in St. Petersburg, where its KHL team has a renewed chance to land comrade Kovalchuk, but all eyes will first be on the Los Angeles Kings, the runners-up in the first Kovie sweepstakes last month. The Kings are back on even footing with Jersey for the moment, depending on which club re-structures a deal that a) satisfies the 27-year-old Kovalchuk’s big-money appetite and b) doesn’t hinder re-signing young stars next year, in this case Zach Parise for the Devils and Drew Doughty of the Kings.

The Devils tried to push the envelope on multiyear, front-loaded deals, taking the Marian Hossa template (12 years, $62.8 million) and Roberto Luongo (12 years, $64 million) and crafted a doozy that would pay Kovalchuk MVP money in the first 10 years, $95 million, dwindling to $550,000 at age 44.

Kovalchuk, who has been in only two playoff series in eight NHL years, will have to lower his sights if he wants to stay in North America, while the league can now wave Bloch’s ruling in the face of any other team plotting these retirement-type contracts, prior to closing the loophole permanently.

“His ruling is consistent with the league’s view of the manner in which the CBA should deal with contracts that circumvent the salary cap,” NHL senior vice-president Bill Daly said in a release.

The players association is “disappointed”, but said little else.

Yet the curiosity factor remains. Why would the usually conservative Lamoriello, who helped craft the CBA, have tried such a bold end-run, especially after the Hossa deal was smell-tested by the league? Was it all designed to try to get the star winger for a lower price or was he offering the big deal as a test case for other clubs?

No draft dodging

Don’t expect Tessa Bohnhomme to get the Taylor Hall treatment in either media attention or a seven-figure entry level contract.

But the national team defenceman will make some history as the anticipated first pick overall when the revamped Canadian Women’s Hockey League holds its draft Aug, 12 at the Hockey Hall of Fame. The five-team league, with clubs in Boston and Montreal will help stock its three Ontario entries (Toronto, Brampton and Burlington) with a draft to spread the talent pool.

“I think a draft legitimizes what we’re doing,” said Toronto goaltender Sami-Jo Small. “There is going to be a good core of players on every team.”

Toronto, which protected the fewest players (three), will get first choice and it’s fairly certain the 25-year-old Sudbury native Bonhomme will be No. 1. Other potential high picks, many of them late cuts from the gold-medal Canadian Olympic team, include defenceman Delaney Collins and goaltender Christina Kessler.

As almost all players in the league hold down other jobs, it was decided not to include Boston and Montreal in the draft and force players to move cities. Boston will be stocked with at least six American Olympians. CWHL teams play a 30-game schedule for the Clarkson Cup, ending in March.

Ice chips

Another summer of uncertainty for the Ducks regarding winger Teemu Selanne has ended with the 40-year-old agreeing to a one-year deal. USA Today reported it at $3.25 million. Selanne will go into this season with 606 goals, four back of Bobby Hull for 15th in NHL history ... Showing a bit of cap creativity to go along with the signing of Mike Modano last week, the Red Wings have added 35-year-old veteran defenceman Ruslan Salei to their roster, a one-year deal worth $750,000 and $350,000 in bonuses according to the Detroit Free Press. The Wings could be slightly over the $59.4-million cap, but will likely adjust that by moving defenceman Derek Meech ... The Pittsburgh Penguins’ annual charity golf tourney this month will be highlighting goalies of the past. Expansion-era stoppers such as Joe Daley, one of the last to play without a mask, and Les Binkley will be special guests.


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