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Report: NHL investigates contract talks between Hawks, Hossa

Friday, 07.31.2009 / 2:17 PM / 2009 NHL Offseason News

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Marian Hossa, the 30-year-old right wing who signed a 12-year, $62.8 million contract with the Blackhawks on July 1, is not only out for at least four months after having shoulder surgery last Friday, but his contract is now under investigation by the League.

According to a report in the Ottawa Sun, the NHL wants to find out if the Hawks and Hossa ever discussed the idea of him retiring before his contract expires, which would be a violation of the collective bargaining agreement and salary cap.

The red flags are up because Hossa's cap hit over the length of his deal is $5.23 million but he will receive a bulk of his $62.8 million up front. If he retires prior to the end of the deal, the cap hit goes away.

Hossa is due an annual salary of $7.9 million for the first seven years of the deal. He'll make $4 million in the eighth year of the deal, but only $3.5 million over the last four years of the contract.

"We're trying to understand how (the contract) was negotiated and whether the intent and effect is to circumvent the cap," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly wrote in an e-mail to the Ottawa Sun. "This was the first of the long-term contracts that took a player out past the age 40, and the value of the contract in its 'out years' was dramatically lower than its early years. We want to know if the possibility of player retirement was ever discussed or even contemplated."

The Sun report said the Hawks could face a maximum fine of $5 million and lose some draft picks if the League's investigation concludes with the finding that Hossa and the Hawks did indeed discuss retirement before the contract is due to expire.

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com
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