The person that will determine the status of Ilya Kovalchuk regarding his NHL-rejected 17-year contract with the New Jersey Devils is a 67-year-old New Jersey native and current Washington D.C.-based arbitrator named Richard Bloch, according to Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record.
Gulitti wrote on his blog, "Fire & Ice," Saturday morning that he spoke to Bloch, who confirmed he is the "system" arbitrator that has been selected to rule on the Kovalchuk hearing. The hearing is expected to begin this coming Wednesday and Bloch should have a decision by the weekend.
If Bloch rules in favor of Kovalchuk, the NHL must immediately approve the 17-year contract he signed with New Jersey. It was rejected by the NHL because the contract was deemed to be a clear circumvention of the collective bargaining agreement, according to Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly.
If Bloch rules that the NHL was just in rejecting the contract, then Kovalchuk will immediately return to unrestricted free agent status. The contract is reportedly worth $102 million of which $95 million is to be paid out over the first 10 years. Kovalchuk would be 44 years old when the contract expires.
Gulitti reports that Bloch is a longtime D.C. resident, but he was born in East Orange, N.J. and graduated from Livingston High School prior to attending Dartmouth College as an undergrad. He earned his law degree and masters in business administration from the University of Michigan.
Bloch has reportedly served as an arbitrator and mediator in cases involving the NHL, Major League Baseball and the NFL.
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl