your contract approved.
We thought we'd have an answer by now, as the league was set to render its verdict on Kovalchuk's latest deal on Wednesday. But instead, amidst reports that the league was now playing hardball and demanding changes to the collective bargaining agreement, we got a two-day extension. Now we're told to expect a decision some time today.
Or, maybe not.
If there are any hockey fans left who are still interested in this ongoing travesty, they can take some comfort in the knowledge that the league and the players are at least working hard on a solution. In fact, sources tell me that most of this week was taken up by frantic negotiations between the league, the Devils and the NHLPA. Based on what I've been told, I've put together a timeline of this week's events.
Monday, 9:00 a.m. - Gary Bettman arrives early and begins reviewing the Devils' newest contract proposal, but admits to finding it difficult to concentrate with Donald Fehr sitting ominously in the back of his office cracking his knuckles.
Monday, 1:15 p.m. - Lou Lamoriello explains to a frustrated Bettman that while he understands his concerns, he still insists on submitting the contract in Comic Sans font.
Monday, 4:45 p.m. - Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly attempt to consult with the league's Executive Vice President In Charge of Not Having One of Your Best Players Go To Russia Just so You Can Prove Some Sort of Point, before remembering that he's been on vacation all summer.
Tuesday, 1:15 p.m. – A smiling Bettman shows Daly a series of encouraging notes reading “Keep your head up, Gary” that some kind stranger has been leaving on his windshield throughout the negotiations, although his mood changes when Daly points out that it they seem to be in Scott Stevens' handwriting.
Tuesday, 4:30 p.m. - Both sides begin to work in earnest to avoid a second round of arbitration. Nobody wants to risk a repeat of Brian Burke's twelve straight hours of testimony from the last time, especially since the only question anyone got to ask him was “How are you?”
Wednesday, 10:45 a.m. - A potential breakthrough: Kovalchuk agrees to the league's demands that he confirm his intentions to play into his 40s by crossing his heart and hoping to die, but only if the league rescinds its controversial request that he also stick a needle in his eye.
Wednesday 1:30 p.m. - The league agrees to allow the contract to include a limited no-trade clause that kicks in towards the end of the deal and prevents the Devils from trading Kovalchuk to a southern US team, a concession they feel comfortable making given that none of those teams will still exist in ten years.
Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. - Bettman begins to consider threatening the NHLPA with the voiding of Roberto Luongo's 12-year, $64 million contract that was signed last summer. The idea was originally suggested to him by an anonymous stranger on the subway who bore an uncanny resemblance to Mike Gillis wearing a wig and fake moustache.
Thursday, 10:30 a.m. - With no agreement in place, a second arbitration hearing looms. The two sides begin the process of finding a new arbitrator to replace Richard Bloch, who is still recovering after his recent mysterious accident that left him battered, unconscious, and surrounded by shards of broken glass and grape jam.
Thursday, 11:30 p.m. - NHLPA negotiators attempt to ease league concerns over the length of Kovalchuk's contract by pointing out that while a 15 years may seem like a lot, you have to keep in mind that the way things are going at least three or four of those seasons will be cancelled by work stoppages.