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Hey, NHL, Leave Pronger Alone

Old news: After going to arbitration, the New Jersey Devils contract with Ilya Kovalchuk was canceled for “circumventing the salary cap”.

New news: The NHL is “reviewing” other contracts, with similar structures, that had previously been approved. One of those contracts, is with our very own Chris Pronger.

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This ruling in the Kovalchuk case is complete and utter bullshit. I hate the Devils, and of course I do not want them to have a great player on their team. But fair is fair.  They looked at the letter of the law, and in my mind, they found a legitimate way around it.  This is simply a case of damn good lawyering. Is it immoral, and sneaky? Absolutely. But unless there’s specific rules to prevent what GM Lou Lamoriello did, then it doesn’t freaking matter.  They were brilliant enough to look at contracts that other teams had signed, and managed to structure there’s in a similar way. Why punish them now, all of a sudden? So now they are back to the drawing board, working on a new deal with Kovy.

The fact that the NHL is taking a look back at other contracts, that they’d already approved, is also ridiculous.  Is there a chance that they decide to void the contract with Chris Pronger? Let’s break into conspiracy theory mode with this one. We all know that the NHL, and the fans of the other 29 teams, all hate the Flyers. However, the Flyers draw big ratings, and have a pretty substantial following, along with some of the bet fans in all of sports. So while the league wants (needs) the Flyers to stay successful, they don’t want them to win the Cup. Take away Pronger, and the team takes a huge step back. When the NHL approved the deal, they figured that Chris was old, washed up, and over the hill.  He proved that wrong, and now the league is looking to stop him.

Ok, back to a little more reality. I don’t actually believe the league is trying to sabotage the Flyers, or anyone else.  Their main goal is to prevent another lockout by trigger happy GM’s.  They don’t want teams overspending by finding loopholes in the current bargaining agreement.  The main reason for the lockout a few seasons ago was that owners allowed salaries to escalate on a ridiculous level. Now, they’re pretty much doing the same thing. Owners, please, stop being idiots. I know top players deserve top dollar, but there has to be a limit. The NHL is trying to make the owners fiscally responsible, but the owners are just dancing around the rules they made to protect themselves.

Bottom line: The NHL should not have the right to cancel contracts that fall into the strict language of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Owners need to display fiscal responsibility and good-faith when negotiating contracts.

In the end, we might have to face another damn lockout as the owners try to add a clause preventing front loaded contracts, and players will argue that the owners are looking for another way to be greedy and not pay the players. I really, really hope this gets resolved without conflict.

On a totally unrelated note, Tim Redinger from Sabre Noise just did a three part series about Expansion and Realignment in the NHL. It’s pretty unique (creative), so please check it out.

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Tags: Chris Pronger Collective Bargaining Agreement Ilya Kovalchuk New Jersey Devils NHL Philadelphia Flyers

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