The NHL, with an arbiter backing its stance Monday that Ilya Kovalchuk's contract with the Devils was illegal, reportedly is ready to go on the offensive against other front-loaded deals.
The Vancouver Sun received an e-mail from Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis confirming the league is investigating goalie Roberto Luongo's 12-year contract. Arbitrator Richard Bloch, during the Kovalchuk ruling, referred to four other long-term contracts: deals signed by Luongo, Philadelphia's Chris Pronger, Chicago's Marian Hossa and Boston's Marc Savard.
"Each of these players will be 40 or over at the end of the contract term and each contract includes dramatic divebacks," Bloch wrote in his ruling. "Pronger's annual salary, for example, drops from $4,000,000 to $525,000 at the point he is earning almost 97% of the total $34,450,000 salary.
"Roberto Luongo, with Vancouver, has a 12-year agreement that will end when he is 43. After averaging some $7,000,000 per year for the first nine years of the Agreement, Luongo will receive an average of about 1.2 million during his last 3 years, amounting to some 5.7% of the total compensation during that time period."
Wrote Gillis to the Sun: "We have complied with the NHL request for information and are awaiting further instructions. Cannot say anything further at this point."
ESPN's Scott Burnside reports that Bloch's evidence shows only six players from more than 3,400 in the past two decades have played to the age of 42.