Now, in anticipation of the "what comes next" questions...
- Many people will be saying that this is no big deal because New Jersey can just send over another offer that conforms to whatever the standard is supposed to be. However:
- First, someone (the league, the union, the arbitrator) needs to clarify whether (a) this ruling now moves us to the penalty phase, or (b) a second Article 26 procedure is necessary, and if so (b-1) will the league pursue?
- Before you pummel me with "we're not 'in' 26!" comments, know that we have been over this in excruciating detail here, and the question of whether we are, or not, is ambiguous, and that's putting it politely.
- Given that the league (Daly) discussed potential penalties and fines when they first rejected the contract, I think the league thinks either that the Article 26 penalties apply now, or at least they can get to them quickly enough with a perfunctory investigation.
- However, as I said in other posts, the idea that a second arbitration is necessary to get to penalties makes almost zero sense to me, since you would literally be on a path to the very same system arbitrator, who has already decided whether or not a circumvention has occurred. And that can't be undone.
- However-however: it's possible (though nutty) to read the CBA such that the Article 11 process determines whether a circumvention of Article 50 has occurred (it has), but we need to wade through an Article 26 procedure to determine whether or not there was a circumventer who did the circumventing, or (alternatively), whether it happened more or less without a wrong-doer (the "mistakes were made" model). I find this scenario to be extremely unlikely, but it's so entertaining and crazy I keep thinking about it.
- If penalties are on the horizon, I doubt New Jersey signs Kovalchuk. I don't see how it's possible given the possibility that a $1-5MM cap penalty could be imposed pending an Article 26 process. Of course, if I'm right and we're in the penalty phase now (or if Bettman simply says he isn't going to pursue penalties), then New Jersey will know quickly where they stand cap-wise.
- I wonder what the arbitrator has to say about Grossman and Lamoriello. Oh, and the owners. Suspensions are possible. If, as I said, we're there yet.
More later, once more details are released.