CBA Reading Comprehension Problem?

The Hockey News: Ken Campbell’s blog: Kovalchuk contract could be restructured by arbitrator

When the NHL Players’ Association filed a grievance Monday to dispute the NHL’s rejection of Ilya Kovalchuk’s 17-year, $102 million contract with the New Jersey Devils, it ran the risk of having an arbitrator restructure the contract if he or she sides with the NHL in the matter.

But no. Because the league alleges an Article 50 circumvention, the arbiter has two choices: contract is good, contract is bad. There is no, CONTRACT IS THIS! HAHAHAHA!

One source close to the situation told THN.com that one of the possibilities would be for the system arbitrator to reform the contract instead of rejecting it and if it were reformed, it would likely be to make the cap hit and salary flat, which would mean Kovalchuk’s contract would pay him $6 million per season for each of the next 17 seasons.

Oh, source. Sourcey, source. You’re cute. But. 11.6(a)(i), not 11.6(a)(ii) applies. No question.

The source said that when the league rejected the contract, it cited two different provisions in Article 26 of the collective bargaining agreement, which deals with circumvention. One of the provisions would call for the contract to be declared null and void if the arbitrator sided with the NHL, the other calls for the arbitrator to reform the contract.

As much as it would be hilarious for the source to know what he’s talking about — because the hint of an Article 26 procedure would cause the collective noggin of the Devils fan brain trust to explode — there are no “two provisions” that fit that description in Article 26. They are 11.6(a)(i) and 11.6(a)(ii). (There ya go, ILWT; don’t say I never did anything for you. )

It’s possible, the source said, that the two sides would have a proceeding prior to the arbitration hearing that would spell out which of the two alternatives will be used if the arbitrator sides with the NHL. But since the case will undoubtedly be expedited, it’s possible the two sides could go into the proceedings not knowing what the ramifications are of the outcome.

A proceeding prior to arbitration? That does sound like Article 26. I suppose it’s possible that the league and the NHLPA have conflated the two Articles. That would comport with other things the league has said (or sources have said the league has said, or nobody said and somebody just made it up), e.g. the talk of fines (which come from Article 26) and the talk of a chance to work things out (first Daly press release), rather than sticking to the strict procedures of 11.6.

In any case, if you give this source any legitimacy at all, the whole idea that (note: I don’t believe any of these things, but other people do): (1) there can’t be fines because we’re dealing with Article 11; (2) there can’t be penalties because there’s been no interminable investigation; (3) Article 26 “doesn’t figure in yet” so the contract is “safe” — doesn’t seem to be the way the league and the union are interpreting the CBA. Like I said (and have said a million times), the exact relationship between 26 and 11 is not explicitly defined in terms of procedure, so don’t be surprised if it turns out to work in a way you don’t expect.