The Story So Far (as of 12am EST):
TSN Insider Darren Dreger explains that the (Ilya Kovalchuk) 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.
That arbitration option would make for an astounding ESPN hour-long spectacular. Sign me up.
The madness is still developing at this hour but John at ILWT has the likely collective opinion from Devils' fans.
No way a seventeen-year deal was going to pass without extraordinary scrutiny; evidently the league took to heart the enormous outcry for a fine-toothed-comb investigation of the contract. Hard to envision they didn't honestly see this coming from miles away, but still...there's a Collective Bargaining Agreement to protect. From a public relations perspective, if nothing else.
More reaction from around The Nation can be found here.
Any surprise at this development? And whether legal CBA-wise or not (and apparently, it's not - at least this very moment while the Bettman crew attempts to save face), what do these uber-contracts really mean over the long run for clubs like the Panthers? Can you even imagine such a deal in Sunrise in the post-Valeri Bure's-brother-era?
UPDATE: an excellent summary of the situation by the Globe and Mail's Eric Duhatschek here.