This actually is much different. The parties will be arguing over the meaning of the terms of a contract. Assuming that the terms are ambiguous, the parties can introduce industry custom to prove their meaning. The Hossa, Pronger, Luongo contracts would be proof of an interpretation favorable to the Devils.
In addition, where a contract is involved, a party can not enforce its terms arbitrarily (it's called the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing).
Maybe this goes to arbitration, but I think it's more likely that Lou/Vanderbeek go to Bettman and ask him where the line is. It gets sticky if the Devils can't live with the cap hit associated with a contract that the NHL will approve.
This is pretty black and white though. This isn't arcane arguing over ambiguous terms, this is the league using a clearly stated rule and having an easily seen point, that the players age is too old at the end of the contract. Since there are no contracts that take a player to this age the comparables of Hossa/Luongo will not be strong.
The contract never existed so the league is not enforcing their rules arbitrarily on a contract. It never existed so nothing was ever done to it, you can't contest a contract if it never came into existence.
The argument comes with whether can prove it's supposition that nobody believes this contract will be played out until Kovy is 44. I don't know which sides holds a better argument, but I think I see a stronger case made by the league since only 2 forwards all time have ever done so. So it's really not a contract argument, it's a powers argument at it's base. The NHLPA would need to try and make it be about the contract, but it's really not, it's about the leagues use of a stated power.
I also think the Devils will try to work this out without arbitration, if it's the years, which it seems to be, it seems like something that can be worked around.
Edited by Devils731, 20 July 2010 - 10:53 PM.