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Report: NHL Denies Reports That They Gave Ultimatum To NHLPA Over Front-Loaded Contracts

The saga that never ends took another strange turn today, with the NHL denying that they gave an ultimatum to the NHLPA over “long term front-loaded contracts.”  

The New York Post had originally reported that the NHL had in fact given an ultimatum to the NHLPA. Here was the original report from the New York Post’s article:

The NHL has given the NHL Players Association an ultimatum regarding not only the contested, front-loaded, long-term contract between the Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk, but of similar contracts the league registered last summer between the Blackhawks and Marian Hossa, and between the Canucks and goaltender Roberto Luongo.

The challenge, as told to The Post by several well-placed sources and reported exclusively last night on nypost.com, puts $211.9 million in player contracts in jeopardy.

The Post has learned that Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly informed the still-leaderless and obviously rudderless NHLPA by e-mail late last night that the league would grandfather the recently re-submitted Kovalchuk 15-year, $100 million contract into the collective bargaining agreement, as well as Luongo’s year-old, 12-year, $64 million contract and Hossa’s year-old 12-year, $63.3 million contract, under the following conditions:

The NHL, who extended yesterday’s 5 p.m deadline to accept for reject Kovalchuk’s current 15-year $100 million contract offer, claims that they did not give the NHLPA an ultimatum according to TSN.

From TSN’s article:

On Wednesday, league sources told TSN that no ultimatum had been issued, but the NHL and NHLPA did agree to extend the deadline for a decision on the Kovalchuk deal until Friday at 5pm et.

Okay, so here is what we know. The NHL and the NHLPA agreed to extend yesterday’s 5 p.m deadline to Friday. There is still no word over whether or not the NHL will accept or reject Kovalchuk’s most recent (and possibly last) attempt at an NHL contract.

The NHL and the NHLPA, while all of the Kovalchuk drama has been going on, have been working together to try and make it more clear to NHL teams and management what will (and will not) fly when it comes to long term contracts.

All we do know is that this situation is quickly turning from annoying to a problem. Hopefully the NHL sticks to their guns and does whatever they feel is right.

What Gary Bettman shouldn’t do (and to his credit hasn’t done thus far) is let his opinion get swayed by everything circling the saga. Bettman should ignore Kovalchuk’s camp’s threat of him not playing n the NHL if this contract is denied. He should ignore all the hype surrounding the other long term contracts that people are pointing to (although he should have dealt with those at the time, but in the end two wrongs don’t make a right).

In the end, if Bettman thinks that this contract is okay, then so be it. But if he doesn’t he should have no fear to toss it out the window again.