Originally written on Fox Sports  |  Last updated 10/22/11

UNIONDALE, NY - OCTOBER 02: Ilya Kovalchuk of the New Jersey Devils skates against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on October 2, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Devils 2-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Since the NHL began operating under its current collective bargaining agreement in July 2005, superstar contracts have only increased in duration. And none has been lengthier than the 15-year pact to which the New Jersey Devils signed left wing Ilya Kovalchuk in September 2010. The Russian scorer performed well down the stretch and in the playoffs as a late-season rental in 2009-10. Yet, after signing that decade-and-a-half-long contract -- it was worth $100 million, according to capgeek.com -- Kovalchuk and the rest of his 'mates started 2010-11 so badly that New Jersey fans could not help wondering if Devils management had backed the wrong horse. Was the front office ruing Kovalchuk's deal as much as the Islanders must regret the length of Rick DiPietro's 15-year pact? But Kovalchuk, along with his teammates, flipped the switch halfway through last year and were the league's hottest team in the regular season's final months. And, at least through the early part of this season, ...
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