NHL still looking into contracts
NHL senior vice president of public relations Gary Meagher confirmed Tuesday that the league continues to look at the front-loaded, long-term contracts of Chicago Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger, Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo and Boston Bruins center Marc Savard.
"I'm not sure 'investigation' is the right word," Meagher said. "We're looking at them."
Arbitrator Richard Bloch upheld the NHL's right to reject the 17-year, $102 million contract between Ilya Kovalchuk and the New Jersey Devils, and ESPN The Magazine senior writer E.J. Hradek cited a high-ranking NHL official on Monday saying the league continues to investigate the other four.
In Bloch's ruling was a footnote stating the other four contracts "are being investigated currently with at least the possibility of a subsequent withdrawal of the registration."
Peter Chiarelli, general manager of the Bruins, acknowledged the investigation in a statement on Tuesday: "We are cooperating fully with the League in its investigation of the Marc Savard contract extension. The League informed us upon their registration of the contract on December 1, 2009 that they would be investigating the circumstances surrounding this contract. From that point on, they commenced their investigation and it has been ongoing since then. On August 4th, I met with two League appointed lawyers as part of the investigation. We will continue to cooperate with the League in any future investigative proceedings if necessary and we will have no further comment on the matter at this time."
Savard signed a seven-year, $28 million extension that doesn't kick in until the start of the season. If the league were to reject the deal, Savard would become a free agent.
Meagher wouldn't discuss the possibilities of what would happen if the league voided any of the contracts.
According to Hradek, Hossa is the only one who has played on the new contract, helping the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup.
Hossa, 31, signed a 12-year, $63.3 million deal last summer, with $59.3 million being paid in the first eight years.
Meagher wasn't sure how unusual it is for the NHL to look into contracts of players who already have played a season on the new deal.
"I don't have the history of what we've done with that," he said.
Canucks general manager Mike Gillis confirmed to the Vancouver Sun via e-mail late Monday night that the NHL is looking into Luongo's deal, which is for 12 years and $64 million.
"We have complied with the NHL request for information and are awaiting further instructions," Gillis told the Sun. "Cannot say anything further at this point."
ESPN.com's Scott Burnside reported in July 2009 that the NHL was investigating the deals of Hossa and Pronger.