'Hawks under microscope

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:40 AM ET

The NHL is investigating whether Marian Hossa's new 12-year, $62.8-million (all terms US) contract with the Blackhawks circumvents the collective bargaining agreement and the salary cap, Sun Media has learned.

The 'Hawks could be facing a maximum fine of $5 million and the loss of draft picks if the league's investigation uncovers proof of allegations that Chicago discussed the possibility of Hossa retiring before the end of the deal, which would end Hossa's cap hit.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed the investigation in an e-mail yesterday, stating that league officials are concerned with the structure of the contract.

What it boils down to is Hossa's cap hit over the 12 years is $5.23 million a season, but for the first seven years, he'll make $7.9 million a season before dropping to $4 million in 2016-17.

It's the final four years of the deal that have the NHL up in arms as Hossa is scheduled to earn $3.5 million, period.

If Hossa were to retire after the eighth season, the $5.23-million cap hit would disappear, too.

"We're trying to understand how it was negotiated and whether the intent and effect is to circumvent the cap," wrote Daly.

"This was the first of the long-term contracts that took a player out past the age 40 and the value of the contract in its 'out years' was dramatically lower than its early years.

"We want to know if the possibility of player retirement was ever discussed or even contemplated."

"The NHL is looking to put a damper on these 10-plus-year contracts with throwaway years tacked on at the end," a league executive said last night. "They are building a strong case against Chicago to make an example of them.

"This issue won't just go away. Lots of other GMs are supporting the league here."


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