It has taken 62 days (and counting) for the summer’s biggest prize to find its destination. And while for three-fourths of that time we've had a good idea who would be the winner of the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes (New Jersey... heck, he was even introduced as a Devil in mid-July), there have been many twists and turns in the process. Let’s take a look back at the whole ordeal up to this point (beginning on Canada Day) shall we?
July 1: Most of the big names are signed right away as Kovalchuk disappoints fans for not finding a new team during the frenzy. It was only a matter of time before he was going to be an L.A. King. Who knew back then we’d have to wait this long?
July 2: TSN’s Darren Dreger puts out the following tweet:
Would Kovalchuk consider the Islanders? Why not? Rumblings the Isles may make a mega millions, mega year pitch. They need the contract.
Yes, the same Darren Dreger that is nearly 100% correct on his news- and deal-breaking. So, as everyone was bored on a holiday weekend, writers and bloggers took this rumor and ran with it (including yours truly). All of a sudden, the New York Islanders were the hot destination to land Kovalchuk.
July 5: Mark Everson of the New York Post puts out a story that a deal with the Devils is likely to get done for seven years, $60 million. The Post then backed off its statement, saying the Devils were favorites but nothing was imminent. Who really trusts the Post, anyway?
On the same day, Kovalchuk’s agent Jay Grossman tweeted that ‘Kovalchuk was looking to make a decision today’, which had people assuming a deal was forthcoming.
July 15: The KingsCast crew is stunned that their team hasn’t signed the coveted Russian yet…
July 19: The New Jersey Devils announce ‘HE’S BACK’ on Twitter, giving hockey fans around the world relief that the 'Kovalchuk Saga' has ended!
It was revealed soon-after by Yahoo!’s Dmitry Chesnokov that it is a 17-year, $102 million mega-deal. Then the contract details were leaked, and that it was a heavily front-loaded… causing another firestorm throughout the blogosphere. How did the Devils get away with this contract? Why is the NHL allowing this when it’s clearly circumventing the cap?
July 20: Kovalchuk and the Devils hold a press conference in Newark, officially announcing the deal.
Later that night, the NHL rejected the Kovalchuk deal, as it deemed as cap circumvention and a 'retirement contract'. Much speculation believed Lamoriello’s press conference comments affected the league’s decision to put the hammer down.
July 26: The NHLPA officially files a grievance on behalf of Kovalchuk.
July 30: Arbitrator Richard Bloch has been selected for the grievance hearing, which is set to begin on August 4.
August 9: Bloch let his decision be known that he has ruled in favor of the NHL, ultimately nixing the Kovalchuk contract with New Jersey.
August 23: Reports surface that the Devils and NHL meet. It wasn’t exactly a contract that was submitted, but more of the framework of the deal.
August 25: More reports come out the NHL had rejected a second proposal presented by the Devils. Again, it wasn’t a contract… just a proposed structure.
August 26: A day later, Chesnokov reports that the KHL could now be a serious option for Kovalchuk if a deal with New Jersey can’t get done. A lot of this talk was sparked by Kovalchuk being in Russia at the time.
August 27: The Devils officially submit a second contract to the NHL for approval. It was initially thought that a decision would be made quickly… then ESPN’s E.J. Hradek reminds us that the league has five days to review the contract.
Dreger later tweets that it’s reportedly a 15-year, $100 million deal.
August 31: Dreger reports that an NHL GM does not believe this contract will be accepted, either.
Think about it... it will be September before we find out where Kovalchuk will be playing this season (unless, obviously, something changes tonight)! The league has up until 5 PM ET tomorrow evening to decide whether to accept the new contract proposal from Lamoriello and company or not. If they opt to block it again, it's anyone's guess what will happen next.
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