Ilya Kovalchuk and the Devils get to hang in limbo for another 48 hours, with the league and the PA -- those are technically the opponents in this thing, not the league and the Devils -- agreeing to push back the deadline for the NHL to render its decision on Kovalchuk's 15-year, $100-million deal to Friday at 5 p.m.

This does not help the Devils, clearly, since that's two fewer days for Lou Lamoriello to sort out his roster if and when Kovalchuk is signed. Training camps open in 16 days; the Devils don't have to be under the $59.4-million salary cap until the first round of roster cuts, but still.

As for Kovalchuk, he's stayed silent so far. But it's hard to think that this ordeal hasn't left a bad taste in his mouth for the way the NHL is treating one of its stars -- not to mention the way Gary Bettman is treating Lamoriello, who has been one of the commissioner's allies over the years.

Rules are rules, yes. And the league can declare a CBA circumvention at any time, precedents be damned, as we've seen with arbitrator Richard Bloch's decision on Kovalchuk's first contract.

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But this is veering close to farce for the league, which is now faced with looking bad (yet again) to its diehard fan base and now, with Donald Fehr jumping in as NHLPA executive director, becoming something much bigger than just one contract.