If the NHL wins the Kovalchuk case, it could turn around and challenge other contracts it previously approved. That means that contracts signed by Luongo, Hossa, Zetterberg, Franzen and Savard, to name a few, could be open to review.
How is this possible? How can contracts that were approved by the NHL a year or more ago now be up for review and possibly voided?
For the answer, we need to turn to the CBA. Under Section 26.10(b) of the CBA, the NHL can investigate a possible circumvention even if the player's contract has been "approved and registered". On top of that, Section 26.10(d) provides that there is no time limitation barring an investigation ("There shall be no limitation of time barring the investigation of a Circumvention by the Commissioner).
Understandably, some player agents are very concerned that the NHL may challenge previously approved contracts if it succeeds in the Kovalchuk case. Hossa anyone?
The next question is whether the NHL would succeed if they tried to void previously approved contracts. Tough to know; however it probably won't be easy. At law, the principle of reliance is really important. If a player can show that he relied on the fact that the contract was approved and structured his life accordingly with the very reasonable expectation that the contract would be honored, then it may be tough for the NHL to go back and prevail.
The player could argue this: "After I signed the contract, and relying on the fact the NHL approved it, I went out and bought a house, a couple of cars, a jewel-encrusted ice bucket and 20 minutes with the cast from The View. Now you're saying a year later that my contract is no good? What do I do with all this debt I now have? And what do I do with Joy Behar, who won't leave my house and keeps prank calling Star Jones?".
So in theory the NHL could challenge some of these older contracts - and agents are worried. In practice, though, the NHL may face some legal challenges.