The Bettman Two Step

The arbitrator called the tune, but due to past practice, nobody knows how to dance to it.
With the Kovalchuk deal denied, and the approval of several extensions still TBD, the league is in a minor state of chaos. It may not seem that way to you and I, but rest assured, behind closed doors, those sheilding us from the view of both the BOG and the NHLPA, there is a considerable amount of hand-wringing going on.
Simply put, instability is bad for the game, and right now the rules around contracts has become murkier, not clearer. Don’t get me wrong, I laud the Kovalchuk decision, but I’m not fool enough to not notice how it runs counter to a deal already approved, and enforced, by the NHL.
Marian Hossa.
Signed to a 12 year deal, with 95.5% of the payment made in the first 8 yrs., leaving a cap friendly 3.5M to be paid in the final 4 years.
Unlike the Luongo, Pronger, Savard and Zetterberg deals, Hossa has played under his contract, which would make it near impossible to undo.
So yes, denying the Kovalchuk deal was the right move, but doing it after approving the Hossa deal further shows how Bettman is not a leader so much as a dictator. What’s good for one, is not good for another. That’s not leadership, it’s chaos, a chaos that will quite possibly lead to another lock out.
This isn’t over, not by a long shot.


One Response to “The Bettman Two Step”

  1. What I don’t like is the talk of retroactively rejecting the Pronger, Savard, or Luongo deals. Even though it seems unfair to reject the Kovalchuk deal after approving others, like the Hossa one, that is how rules evolve. At some point it changes direction and someone gets the short end of the stick. Whether or not this is an indication of Bettman’s tyrannical impulses or not, the NHL can justify it by saying “that was then, this is now.”
    But when “then” becomes “now or later” you end up with a train wreck and, with or without good leadership in the NHLPA, someone will sue and they will win. The CBA clause that allows the NHL to review contracts at any time just would not hold up under scrutiny, not after parties have relied on a contract for any length of time. I don’t really think the NHL will do that, but by talking about it they undermine any credibility they have. It’s very Wizard of Oz, a lot of bark but not much bite.

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