Fool me once, shame on you, fool me seventeen times...

And I'll bet you fell for it. You know, the part about a deal being announced today. Remember that? Big meeting with league, league will decide on the deal within 24 hours...blah blah blah.

Daly: No Kovalchuk contract submitted, other investigations ongoing - Puck Daddy - NHL - Yahoo! Sports
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed there was a meeting between the NHL, representatives of the New Jersey Devils and free-agent left winger Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) on Monday. He said "there was no new contract submitted," but that the sides "talked conceptually." It was previously reported that the Devils submitted a contract for Kovalchuk on Monday, with a decision on the contract potentially arriving on Tuesday.

So, to recap, in the fifteen days since the Bloch decision, here's what we know has happened:

  • Lamoriello said he would continue to pursue a deal with Kovalchuk.
  • Lamoriello and Grossman met with the league to talk conceptually./

My snarky twin wonders why they didn't talk conceptually two weeks ago, especially since Daly has said repeatedly and explicitly that all the clubs know what the parameters are. What's to discuss? And why would it involve a face-to-face summit? Don't they have phones? Can't Lamoriello speed dial Daly and say, "Look, if we go for 15 years, is that going to fly?" Even if Daly is insisting on being cryptic on a Palpatinian level, with his "every deal is different" mantra, how long does it take to get a pre-ruling on "hey, what about 14 years, $90MM, no tail years less than $1.5MM" or whatever?

Put it this way: the league wants Kovalchuk in the NHL; the Devils want Kovalchuk on the Devils; Kovalchuk wants...something. With three willing parties, there's literally nothing standing in their way. Some other thoughts:

  • No, I don't think the delay is that the league hasn't decided on penalties. I think that ship has sailed. (I frankly thinks it's weird, given that they penalized Toronto a couple of years ago for what was essentially a clerical error, that they are letting the Devils off with no penalty at all; but that's another conversation, and I think we've already had it.)/

No, I don't think Grossman is the tail wagging the dog. If Grossman were the Svengali-like troublemaker abusing his influence over Kovalchuk, wouldn't Kovalchuk have just moved on after the arbitration, brought in new representation and made whatever deal he wants to make? If Grossman were behind the wheel, Kovalchuk would have already gotten out of the car. This situation has been such a colossal mess from day one, I don't see why Kovalchuk would put up with it if it were Grossman's mess. But if it's Kovalchuk's, it makes total sense not only that he would stick with it, but that he might not even see it for the train-wreck that it is (to say nothing of realizing he's the cause).
I think at this point that Grossman (everyone, actually) is just trying to make it work somehow, given Kovalchuk's contract demands.
And that's the simplest explanation, isn't it? It explains the deadlock before the contract, it explains the contract, it explains the lack of movement since the arbitrator's decision. Occam's Razor. In this case, just one assumption -- Kovalchuk has been asking for too much from the beginning and (so far) is unwilling to compromise -- is all you need.