[UPDATE: HAHAHA] My first reaction: If the deal turns out to be for 17 years...
[this is yesterday's post, suddenly not so stupid]
...I would not be surprised if the league doesn't approve the deal. Technically, it's a circumvention of the CBA. (Yeah, I know, insert cynicism here). Is there anyone on the planet who thinks Kovalchuk will be playing when he's 44? If not, then it's a circumvention.
If Bettman isn't going to draw the line in the sand here, where is the line? Why not have it be 23 years, until Kovalchuk is 50? Thirty-three years, till he's 60? Obviously, Lamoriello has made the calculation and decided that 17 years is the farthest he can push the Bettman without forcing him to void the deal. But Chicago made that calculation on the Hossa deal and decided a deal that took Hossa to age 42 was as far as they could go, and they got themselves an investigation. I know that's meaningless, except to say that the Kovalchuk deal has at least earned itself that much.
I wonder if any deal will get voided on those grounds before the loop-hole is closed for good in 2012.