They wanted to shut down the back diving contracts after Luongo's deal was signed. However they couldn't do that without invalidating the contracts for Zetterberg, Franzen and Hossa since they were all too similar. If they had done that, it would have also invalidated the games Detroit and Chicago played that past season, and would have denied Chicago the Stanley Cup they just won. Only once the Kovy deal took it a small step further could they draw the line in the sand. For the rest, they had to complain in the CBA negotiations to show just how against them they really were from the start.
I agree w/ you for the most part but Kovalchuk's deal wasn't the tipping point (although they did try to void that contract), imo. Weber, Suter & Parise were the tipping points.
Suddenly these decade long deals were the expected for every tier 1 UFA group. Kovalchuk (youngest UFA 50g guy ever), Suter & Weber, okay maybe, but a 60pt Zach Parise (albeit a stellar two-way player)?! Next year it would've been Getzlaf & Perry on, what, matching 15-year/$125m deals? Stephen Weiss on a 8-year/$52m deal?
This past summer has got to be the NHL's "WTF?!" moment for sure.