As most predicted, the NHLPA filed a grievance over the league's rejection of New Jersey's 17 year contract for superstar forward Ilya Kovalchuk. The two sides agreed upon an arbitrator last week and a hearing is scheduled to begin on Wednesday with a decision expected by the weekend.
Devils' writer, Tom Gulitti, confirmed that Jersey native Richard Bloch will be the arbitrator. According to Gulitti, Bloch has plenty of experience deciding disputes and has even had previous NHLPA vs. NHL rulings.
Bloch has ruled on other CBA-related grievances between the NHL and the NHLPA in the past. In 2008, he ruled in favor of the NHL in a grievance filed by the NHLPA over designating European drafted players as "defected." The ruling allowed NHL teams to hold the draft rights of those players more than the usual two years – as long as those players continued to play in countries not participating in the International Ice Hockey Federation transfer agreement.
Bloch also awarded Scott Gomez a $5 million dollar contract, in affect more than doubling his salary when his case went before arbitration in 2006. It will be interesting to see where this goes.
Speaking of the NHLPA, there is plenty of talk around the league that "retired" baseball union czar, Donald Fehr could be on his way back into office, this time for the hockey union. More about that on From The Rink.