Bruce Arthur came up with a pretty good question tonight: why isn’t the CBA just one paragraph that reads, “Whatever Gary says”? I’m not sure that it’s quite that bad but reading Richard Bloch’s decision in the Kovalchuk arbitration, it does seem that Bloch has decided that the NHL has an awful lot of leeway. I’ll write some more about it later this week but I’m at least wavering in my conclusion that this type of deal is permissible. I have trouble with some of Bloch’s reasoning; specifically, his conclusion that this kind of deal defeats the intent of the Team Payroll System when it’s permissible according to that but it’s a pretty compelling argument taken as a whole, I think.
What does that mean? Well, if Bloch is right, it means that the NHLPA and the NHL have an agreement that permits the NHL to make decisions according to some vague, unspecified criteria. It also means that other contracts, like those signed by Luongo and Hossa, are open to league review and challenge. Heck, the CBA contains a provision that permits the NHL to order that games won by a team circumventing the CBA be forfeited; maybe Chicago didn’t win the Stanley Cup. Of course, Bloch names Pronger’s deal as suspect as well. So it couldn’t be Philadelphia. San Jose or Montreal might be your 2009-10 Stanley Cup Champions. I’m sure we’ll find out eventually.