the real reason they were so pissed about the kovalchuk contract wasn't because of the cap circumvention (although that didn't help). it was that they knew HE couldn't afford to pay it. he has leveraged just about everything he can to continue his ownership of this team.
This is the first time I've ever heard that even as a rumor, although it certainly confirms what some people suspected when the weird contract format came out (less money in the first two years before the big payouts, when does THAT ever happen?).
JVB is despised by the NHL. He is despised by his partners. He has done everything with leveraged money earned 10 years ago. Trying to cobble money from people to stay his execution another couple of years is counter productive. This is Wilpon-esque but to a worse degree.
Thing is JVB actually seems like a genuine fan of the Devils, that's what makes it hard for me to root for his demise. I mean until this year the payroll has never been an issue, and the team's fan relations department has been dramatically upgraded the last few years.
As opposed to the Wilpons who are bigger fans of the Brooklyn Dodgers as evidenced by Citi Field, and never open the pocketbook until they 'have' to (when fans were ready to riot in '98 after they refused to consider acquiring Piazza at first, and in '04 when they were terrible for three straight years). Not to mention the Mets' lack of incentives to be a season ticket holder is a disgrace.