Archive for July, 2010

Brodeur Named NJBIZ Forty Under Winner

Martin Brodeur was named a winner in the 2010 NJBIZ Forty Under Winner awards program yesterday.

The Forty Under Forty awards program honors both men and women under the age of 40 who have made headlines in their field and who share a common commitment to business growth, professional excellence and to the community.

To qualify, candidates had to meet specific qualifications, including working in New Jersey and possessing significant authority for decision making within a company or organization.

Brodeur and the other winners will receive their awards Monday, September 20 at an awards ceremony at the Palace at Somerset Park in Somerset.

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Hearing Scheduled For Kovalchuk Grievance

July 30, 2010 1 comment

Several sources have reported that the NHL and NHLPA have agreed on a systems arbitrator to rule on the grievance filed over Ilya Kovalchuk’s 17-year, $102 million dollar contract.

The hearing date, identity of the arbitrator and location have yet to be announced.

Reports say that both sides want a ruling by the end of next week. Since the arbitrator will have 48 hours to deliver a ruling, it’s likely the meeting will take early next week. The hearing is expected to take two days.

Since the NHLPA represents Kovalchuk, the Devils will have limited involvement in the case. The arbitrator can call team representatives – including general manager Lou Lamoriello and owner Jeff Vanderbeek – to be witnesses during the hearing. Representatives can also be there to observe the proceedings.

Kovalchuk does not have to be at the hearing, but he may be called in to testify. The left-winger had planned to go back to Russia to meet with his trainer and begin preparing for the upcoming season.

It seems as if the arbitrator will only rule whether or not the rejection of the contract should be upheld. Earlier this week, I wrote about the possible repercussions the NHL could level against the Devils and Kovalchuk if the arbitrator’s decision favored the league. At this point, it seems like the league is only interested in whether or not the deal will be approved.

It seems like this situation is finally beginning to reach its climax. Next week will be crucial, and it’ll be interesting to see if any testimony, etc. is leaked to the press. Now, we all get one week to anxiously wait and see whether or not Kovalchuk will be a Devil.

Categories: Team Signings Tags: , ,

Devils 2010-2011 Schedule Preview – Dallas Stars

July 30, 2010 2 comments

The offseason continues to slog on, and while the NHL and NHLPA are fighting over Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract, the Devils are preparing for the 2010-11 NHL season. The team, which has made the postseason 13 straight times and won the Atlantic Division last season, will look to finish the regular season near the top of the Eastern Conference. Throughout the next month, I’ll preview each team on the Devils schedule this season, giving historical data and what the Devils can look forward to this season. Up first, the Dallas Stars.

Martin Brodeur makes a save against the Stars on January 5, 2010. The Devils won that game, 4-0. Photo Credit: Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger

Devils vs. Stars – Historical Data

The Devils are 12-9-1 all-time against Stars during regular season play. Last season, the team’s split the season series. On November 21, 2009, the Stars defeated the Devils, 5-3, in Dallas. Brian Rolston scored 55 seconds into the game to give the Devils an early lead. But Dallas responded with three unanswered goals in the period to take a 3-1 lead. After giving up three goals on nine shots, Yann Danis was pulled and Martin Brodeur played the rest of the game. Rolston scored again in the second, and Travis Zajac tied the game at 6:31 of the third. The Stars answered back, with Tom Wandell scoring the game-winning goal at 9:07 of the period. Stephane Robidas added insurance at 14:09 of the period.

The Devils won the second game of the series, 4-0, on January 5 at home. Patrik Elias started the scoring, tallying his first goal of the game at 18:02 of the first period. The Devils would explode for three goals in the second period, with Elias scoring his second goal of the game at 6:59 of the period. Brodeur made 28 saves for his third shutout in seven days.

The Devils are also 4-2 all-time against the Stars in the regular season. They defeated Dallas in six games to win their second Stanley Cup title, in 2000.

Devils vs. Stars – This Season’s Matchup

The Devils and the Stars will meet twice during the 2010-11 regular season. Both teams begin their season Friday, October 8 at the Prudential Center. They play their second game February 22, 2011 in Dallas.

The Stars enter this season missing two of the franchise’s most recognizable players. Goalie Marty Turco, who holds team records for most wins and shutouts in a season, wasn’t re-signed during the offseason. The team will look to replace his production with Kari Lehtonen and Andrew Raycroft. The franchise also moves on without their all-time scoring leader Mike Modano. Modano holds all-time franchise records for goals (557) and assists (802). The team will return leading scorer Loui Eriksson and points leader Brad Richards.

Other Notable Information:

The Stars missed the playoffs and finished 12th in the Western Conference last season. Along with signing Raycroft, the Stars added Stanley Cup winner Adam Burish and former-Devil Brad Lukowich. Last season, the Stars allowed more goals against (254) than goals for (237).

Vanderbeek’s Involvement With Kovalchuk Signing May Buck A Trend

Throughout the process of signing Ilya Kovalchuk, a new theme arose not usually seen within the organization. Jeff Vanderbeek, the Devils’ owner, seemed to be intimately involved in the process. It’s something fans of the organization aren’t used to seeing, and this involvement could become a more aggressive trend in the coming years.

While Jeff Vanderbeek and Lou Lamoriello are all smiles at the Ilya Kovalchuk press conference, there was tension when talking about the negotiation process. Photo Credit: Mel Evans/AP Photo

The Devils have had three owners in their history, each with varying levels on involvement with the team. The first, Dr. John J. McMullen, purchased the Devils in 1982. He was responsible for moving the team from Colorado to New Jersey, where they settled in the Meadowlands. He also brought in president and general manager Lou Lamoriello during the 1987-88 season. No one can doubt McMullen’s involvement in getting New Jersey a professional sports franchise and making them competitve. However, in my research, it never appeared that McMullen dealt with signing players. While he was involved, he didn’t seem to participate in the on-ice aspect of the team.

Shortly before winning the 2000 Stanley Cup championship, McMullen sold the team to Puck Holdings, a subdivision of YankeeNets. YankeeNets, a joint venture of the Yankees and Nets, wanted to create a regional sports network to cover their teams. They purchased the Devils for $175 million in an effort to cover the major league sports market in the tri-state area. Puck Holdings also thought it would increase the chances of getting a new stadium in Newark for the Nets.

But it wouldn’t work. Reports leaked that the Yankees and Nets had internal disagreements, with the Yankees believing both teams were money-losers. There was no interest in building a new stadium for the teams. During their ownership, Puck Holdings remained largely out of the picture, making Lamoriello CEO of the Devils. Lamoriello ran the day-to-day operations of the organization. Clearly, Puck Holdings was far from an involved ownership group.

Vanderbeek, a minority owner when Puck Holdings ran the Devils, purchased the team in 2004. He became a proponent in getting the Devils their own arena, and helped to get the Prudential Center built. Unlike the other two owners, Vanderbeek brought a fan’s perspective to ownership. The former executive vice president of Lehman Brothers was also a Devils’ season-ticket holder and a New Jersey native. It’s this perspective which could change the owner dynamic within the organization.

Continue reading after the jump for my reasoning why Vanderbeek might be bucking the “hands-off” ownership trend.

Read more…

Devils Sign Mark Fraser to One-Year Deal

The Devils avoided arbitration with defenseman Mark Fraser, signing him to a one-year, one-way contract for $500,000.

THe Devils and Mark Fraser agreed to a one-year, $500,000 contract yesterday. Photo Credit: Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press/Associated Press

Last season, Fraser made $500,000, but had a two-way contract. Fraser wanted a one-way contract to ensure himself a spot on an NHL roster.

Fraser became an important rookie on the Devils’ blue line last season. In 61 games, he tallied three goals and three assists and had a plus-3. He also recorded 36 penalty minutes and averaged 12:22 of ice time.

After the Devils acquired Martin Skoula in a trade deadline deal and Paul Martin returned from injury, Fraser became a healthy scratch for 13 of the team’s final 19 regular season games. He only played in one of the team’s five playoff games.

Devils’ general manager Lou Lamoriello was happy with the terms of the contract.

“This is something I’m very comfortable with,” Lamoriello said of the contract. “We talked about it, but we were prepared to go Friday (to the arbitration hearing) if we had to.”

Since Fraser filed for arbitration, the Devils now have a second buyout window to clear cap space if they need. That could help them if the rejection of Ilya Kovalchuk’s 17-year, $102 million deal is overturned. The buyout window begins three days after the agreement and ends 48 hours after the starting date.

I think this is a solid depth move for the Devils. Fraser comes cheaper than other veterans still available, and he played solid hockey whenever he was on the ice. He did make some mistakes, but he was always reliable and gave the team quality minutes. I advocated for Fraser to get more playing time last season, and I’m happy to see this deal get done.

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Devils Face Potentially Harsh Penalties In Grievance Case

July 26, 2010 1 comment

With the NHLPA officially filing a grievance today against the NHL on behalf of Ilya Kovalchuk, the league and players’ union will now battle out whether the 17-year, $102 million dollar contract is legitimate. If the NHLPA wins, the Devils get their player. But if the arbitrator rules in favor of the NHL, the Devils could face harsh penalties.

Kovalchuk and the Devils can both face harsh penalties if the arbitrator rules in the NHL's favor. Photo Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images

After reading several reports about what exactly comes next, I wanted to outline the following steps. Big credit to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record for the information.

With the NHLPA filing their grievance, both sides will look to find a “systems” arbitrator. The neutral arbitrator will conduct a full hearing with witnesses, oral arguments and written briefs presented to the arbitrator. Both sides, however, can choose not to have the formal hearing.

The arbitrator can call anyone involved in the process as a witness. Kovalchuk, his agent Jay Grossman, Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek and general manager Lou Lamoriello can all be called on for the case. The Los Angeles Kings, who Grossman and Kovalchuk negotiated with, can also be called in. The site of the hearing would be up to the NHLPA and NHL to decide. After the hearing, the arbitrator will have 48 hours to issue a ruling.

If the Arbitrator Rules In Favor of the Contract…

If the arbitrator rules that the NHL was wrong to reject the offer, the NHL will have to immediately approve and register the contract. It’s that simple.

If the Arbitrator Rules In Favor of the NHL…

If the arbitrator upholds the NHL’s rejection of the contract, then the deal would be dead and Kovalchuk would become an unrestricted free agent. Kovalchuk could then re-negotiate a deal with the Devils or sign with another team. But it’s not that simple.

The arbitrator also decides whether or not the Devils attempted to circumvent the cap. If the arbitrator believes the team attempted circumvention, commissioner Gary Bettman can then impose hefty fines against the club.

According to Article 26.13 of the collective bargaining agreement:

if the system arbitrator finds that a circumvention has been committed by the club, the commissioner has the power to impose of fine of up to $5 million in cases of circumvention of the salary cap. It also says “if such a fine is assessed against a club, that club’s payroll room shall also be reduced by such amount for the following league year.”

The Devils, who would have $3.5 million this season in cap space, would then have to shed salary to accommodate the fine. Bettman can also take draft picks of any position and any year away from the team.

Kovalchuk could also face penalties. Bettman can fine him between $250,000 and $1 million for circumvention, and the arbitrator can recommend suspension of Kovalchuk if it’s found that he tried to circumvent the cap.

I don’t think the NHL will take a hard-line stance, but the Devils, who are bystanders in the process, can potentially lose out on more than Kovalchuk if the arbitrator rules in favor of the NHL.

Categories: Analysis Tags: ,

NHLPA Files Grievance Against NHL For Kovalchuk

July 26, 2010 1 comment

As expected, the NHLPA filed a grievance against the NHL on the part of Ilya Kovalchuk, who had his 17-year, $102 million contract rejected by the NHL July 20.

The NHLPA announced the decision in a statement this afternoon.

“The NHLPA has filed a grievance disputing the NHL’s rejection of the Standard Player Contract between the New Jersey Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk,” NHLPA spokesperson Jonathan Weatherdon wrote in the statement. “Under the terms of the CBA, the NHLPA and Mr. Kovalchuk are entitled to an expedited resolution of this matter. The NHLPA will have no further comment until this matter has been resolved by an arbitrator.”

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly responded to the NHLPA’s statement.

“We have received formal notice that the NHLPA is grieving the league’s rejection of Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract with the New Jersey Devils,” Daly said in the statement.  “Although there is no defined timetable at this point, we intend to work with the players’ association to ensure an expeditious resolution of this dispute.  The league looks forward to the opportunity to establish its position before the arbitrator.  We will have no further public comment pending completion of the process.”

The next step will be for both the league and the player’s association to find a “systems” arbitrator to rule on the case. The arbitrator will have 48 hours to decide whether to uphold the NHL’s rejection or deny it.

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