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Just hours after a news conference introducing Ilya Kovalchuk's(notes) return to the New Jersey Devils, word spread that the massive 17-year, $102 million deal was rejected by the NHL.

Once the contract was signed, the league had five days to reject it; and after a handful of long-term deals with diminishing cap hits towards the end of their contracts, Kovalchuk's is the one that the NHL is putting its foot down over.

From TSN:

TSN Insider Darren Dreger explains that the deal was rejected due to the fact that the NHL does not believe that either Kovalchuk nor the Devils expected the 2004 Rocket Richard trophy winner would be playing near end of the contract and that it is a case of artificially lowering the annual average value of the contract. The Devils must now either file the contract once again or the Players' Association can file a grievance.

Should the NHLPA decide to file a grievance, the contract would remain dead until an arbitrator determines otherwise.

The NHLPA has five days to file that grievance and the contract would be considered dead until an arbitrator's decision is announced.

Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello, who openly admitted he was not a fan of the deal and that the NHL "shouldn't have these," declined comment, according to The Bergen Record's Tom Gulitti, while team owner Jeff Vanderbeek was unaware of any rejection. And interestingly enough, Gulitti points out that the New Jersey's VP of Hockey Ops, Steve Pellegrini, worked for the NHL as their "cap regulator," meaning that he understands everything there is to know about the CBA.

After waiting through 19 days of speculation and rumor, it appears the Summer of Kovalchuk isn't quite finished yet.

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