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Reports: Kovalchuk arbitration starts Wed.

Tuesday, 08.03.2010 / 10:10 AM / NHL Free Agency 2010

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Ilya Kovalchuk's immediate and potentially long-term future will be determined at a hearing that will take place in Boston starting Wednesday according to multiple reports. It will be up to arbitrator Richard Bloch to determine if the NHL was within its legal right to reject the 17-year, $102 million contract Kovalchuk signed with the New Jersey Devils on July 19 or if the contract should be immediately approved by the League.

The hearing will reportedly begin Wednesday and conclude Thursday. Bloch could render his decision as early as Friday, though a report in the Newark Star-Ledger suggested Monday would be more likely for the ruling to come down.

If Bloch determines that the League was right to reject the contract because, as NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly stated, it circumvents the Collective Bargaining Agreement, then Kovalchuk immediately will return to unrestricted free agent status. If Bloch rules that the contract is valid under the current CBA, then the League must immediately approve it.

According to reports Kovalchuk put off his return trip home to Russia in order to be present at the hearing. He was supposed to leave to start training in his country on Aug. 1.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

I've been getting frustrated lately, and the only thing keeping me sane was the team winning and other people stepping up and scoring. Then you just kind of let it go and realize you can end the series with one shot, that frustration goes away for a brief moment, and that's what happened.

— Montreal forward Max Pacioretty after scoring the OT winner in Game 4 -- his first career playoff goal -- to eliminate the Lightning and send the Canadiens into the second round