But while the decision itself was made public, the details of last week's hearings were not. Until now.
My spies were in attendance for one session of the hearing, and recorded a complete transcript. I'm republishing it below so that NHL fans can understand the case that Bloch was dealing with, and judge for themselves whether justice was done.
(Scene: a courtroom. Richard Bloch is presiding, with various other NHL personnel on hand. Several NHL stars are sitting in a small waiting area in the back of the room.)
Bloch: OK everyone, let's get started. In this morning's session we heard from several league officials. Gary Bettman testified about the discretionary powers available to him as commissioner, Bill Daly explained his interpretation of the CBA, and Lou Lamoriello threw several jars of jam at my head.
Lamoriello: It slipped out of my hand.
Lamoriello: Fifteen times.
Bloch: Anyway, this afternoon we'll be hearing testimony from various NHL players. The first to take the stand will be Ilya Kovalchuk. Let's get the biggest question out of the way first: Ilya, do you really intend to play the entire length of this contract?
Kovalchuk: First of all, I just want to say how disappointed I am that my integrity is being called into question here. Yes, of course I plan to play through the end of this contract. And in fact, I have every intention of playing well beyond that.
Bloch: Wow. Seriously?
Kovalchuk: Of course. Plenty of guys play past the age of 34.
Bloch: Um… Ilya? You're 27 years old and you signed a 17-year contract.
Kovalchuk: Exactly. So 27 plus 17 is... hold on... carry the one, and... oh. Hey, wait a second. Oh man.
Kovalchuk: Seriously, Lou? You actually thought anyone would buy this?
(A jar of grape jam smashes against the wall behind Kovalchuk's head.)
Bloch: Thanks for your testimony Ilya. You may step down.
Kovalchuk (doing an old man voice): Hey, it's me, 44-year-old Ilya Kovalchuk. When does the game start? I want to make sure my grandchildren have time to feed me my pre-game meal of mashed bananas.
Bloch: That will be all, Ilya. We'll now begin hearing testimony from other NHLers who have signed similar deals which have been approved by the league. Our first player will be, let's see... Oh no.
(The sound of smashing windows and car alarms can be heard from outside.)
Bloch (into intercom): Security, we have a Code Orange.
(A chainsaw slashes through the wall, carving out a hole through which a figure emerges.)
Chris Pronger: Boo-yah!
Bloch: OK, let's get this over with. Chris, you signed a seven-year extension when you were already 35 years old. Why should we believe that you'll still be playing when that contract ends?
Pronger: Well, keep in mind that I've never relied on skills that fade with age, like speed or hand-eye coordination. My game is based on abilities that tend to remain consistent over time.
Bloch: Size? Positioning? Defensive awareness?
Pronger: Elbowing people in the head when they're not looking.
Bloch: Of course.
Pronger: Hey, is this going to take much longer? I haven't slashed anyone in the throat in like 15 minutes, and I'm starting to get the shakes.
Bloch: I think you're all done. Our next player to testify will be Islanders' goalie Rick DiPietro. Thanks for joining us, Rick.
DiPietro: No problem.
Bloch: Now Rick, your 15-year contract was the longest in league history when it was signed. Can you explain the process that lead to the deal?
DiPietro (now slumped over in chair): …
Lamoriello: Um, I think he's unconscious.
Bloch: From sitting down? Wow, he really is injury prone.
Lamoriello: No, actually while you were talking Pronger ran over and elbowed him in the head.
Kovalchuk (still doing old man voice): Dangnabbit, Pronger!
Bloch: OK everyone, let's settle down. We have several more players to hear from. In fact, as I look over into the waiting area I see that… Oh for the love of…
(In the waiting area, Marian Hossa, Mike Richards, Roberto Luongo and Henrik Zetterbeg are laying in a pile of twisted limbs. There is blood on the ceiling. The only movement is from a dazed Alexander Ovechkin, whose attempt to commando crawl to the exit is cut short when he's hit in the temple with a jar of strawberry jam.)
(Pronger and Lamoriello high five.)
Bloch: OK, it's time for my decision. I'd like to render my ruling based on the details of the CBA, but my copy has jam stains all over it. I'd look through past rulings for precedents, but Chris Pronger just set my law library on fire. And I'd flip a coin, but Ilya Kovalchuk took my spare change and is mailing it to his imaginary grandchildren.
Kovalchuk (shaking fist): Get off my lawn!
Bloch: So here's my ruling: You people are lunatics. The contract is voided. And if I ever see any of you again, I'm calling the police. This hearing is adjourned.