On Monday, arbitrator Richard Bloch ruled against the Devils and the NHLPA. Ilya Kovalchuk is now again a free agent. A blow for the Devils and the union to be sure. But there is more here than meets the eye.
The decision has opened up the possibility that other deals, like the long term contracts to Roberto Luongo, Chris Pronger and Marian Hossa could be challenged.
Can you imagine if all of those contracts go the same way Kovalchuk's deal did? It would cement the league as the clear winner of the recent CBA. No matter how the NHLPA tries to work around it, the NHL gets exactly what they want even though the language in the CBA is up for interpretation.
What does this all mean? Well when this CBA expires at the end of the 2012 season, the NHL will look to set better parameters in defining the salary cap. Maybe a more defined length of deals and an age limit at the end of long term contracts.
The NHLPA, badly beaten in the last lockout and having their hands slapped by Gary Bettman on the Kovalchuk deal and maybe on other deals as well, will look to fight those parameters tooth and nail.
Enter Donald Fehr, already an adviser to the NHLPA and former head of the baseball players union, the strongest union in all of sports by a mile.
If Fehr can be convinced to take over the NHLPA's reins before 2012 you know he would set his sights on pulverizing Bettman and company the way he did Bud Selig and MLB.
What does that mean for us? Well remember 1994? Baseball cancelled the World Series and didn't get a new CBA until after 1995 spring training started. Fehr plays to win and the NHLPA is dying for a victory.
After losing the entire 2004-05 season, can the NHL put us through it again in 2012?
All you need are two sides to disagree on what makes a good CBA. Check.
Two leaders willing to win at all costs. If Fehr takes over ... Check.
The Mayans predict that the world will end in 2012. Hockey Armageddon may beat that.
Is the rejection of Kovalchuk deal just a wake-up call for GM's around the league? Or did it wake up the NHLPA?
2012 is right around the corner.