Kovalchuk hopeful about a new contract

Just got back from the first day of Thrashers training camp. Very good to meet so many of you fans. Hey, I even met the famous – or is that infamous? – Sara.

Lots of news from the practice.

My first stop was obviously Ilya Kovalchuk to talk about his contract status. I asked him for an update. He said his agent and Don Waddell were talking and he just wanted to concentrate on playing hockey. So I asked if he was confident he would re-sign and he said yes.

“Yeah, hopefully because I’ve been here all my [professional] life,” Kovalchuk said.

Stay tuned.

Talked to Toby Enstrom about the injury his suffered during the World Championships. He said he is fine. He took four weeks off after surgery to repair the facial fractures.

The other note of interest was Kari Lehtonen. He did not practice. He is still recovering from back surgery. There was no indication from coach John Anderson when he will return. In Lehtonen’s absence, finding a No. 1 goalie is a top priority of camp.

“Right now, he’s not in the mix,” Anderson said of Lehtonen. “Saying he’s No. 1, that’s not true. I’ll put him in when he’s actually ready, but right now the No. 1 job is up for grabs. Right now there are four guys that look really good out there.
“I want to make sure we get off to a good start and I want to establish a No. 1 goalie early on. If Kari is not here [finding a No. 1 goalie] is a priority of our training camp.”

We’ll see what happens. Your thoughts?

34 comments Add your comment

Sara

September 13th, 2009
5:21 pm

That news from Kovy is the best I’ve heard all year. Hopefully he will sign soon and then we can sit back and watch as heads across the NHL media and message board world simultaneously explode.

Nice meeting you too Chris, along with Eileen and “the lurker.”

World Be Free

September 13th, 2009
5:35 pm

As I have stated before, the sooner his contract is settled and signed the better. This issue must be resolved if we are to move forward.

Darkhorse

September 13th, 2009
5:45 pm

Amen Sara! I hope all the White Spot’s and Tim Horton’s across Canada are filled with hockey fans crying in disbelief the day he resigns because somehow he didn’t want to wait and sign with their respective team next year.

What do all the teams in Canada have a worse case of than our beloved Thrashers, besides cold weather? Cupaphobia, 16 years and counting since that country celebrated a cup with one of its teams. Lot’s of history up there, but whaddaya done for me lately….

Thanks for the updates Chris. Keep us informed on which goalie seems to be standing out the most during camp. I’ll probably make an appearance out there during the week, when the crowds are a little lighter.

JLH

September 13th, 2009
5:47 pm

Thanks Chris! It was great to see you at camp today. Great articles. That is by far the most optimistic statement I have seen from Ilya. Anderson does not sound so confident about Kari, and that worries me. A couple of observations: Legace did not impress and frankly neither did Kane. Kubina and Antropov are huge and Slava looked in mid-season form.
I’ve heard Zherdev can be a prima donna and wonder if his locker room presence is influencing Waddell. I’ve been told by Spirit personnel (and you confirmed this from the players you have talked to) that the most important reason for the turn around after the trade deadline was the improved camraderie and feeling in the locker room. My guess though is that money and marketing are primary influences on Kane’s status.

World Be Free

September 13th, 2009
5:58 pm

Yes Sara, thanks for telling it like it is.

Until recently, Canadian hockey fans in general were a pretty cool bunch. The problem is they are all being whipped into a frenzy by Basillie, CBC, idiot Cherry and the media in general in Canada. it’s all turned into an ugly mess.

Sara

September 13th, 2009
6:12 pm

Well it isn’t just Canadians either. There were a number of articles from prominent hockey writers in the US (including PuckDaddy and John Buccigross) talking as far back as near the trade deadline last season about Kovy leaving Atlanta for greener pastures. Several people pontificated that Waddell should have gone ahead and traded Kovy then because he would generate the most return at that time and it was certainly a foregone conclusion that he would never re-sign in Atlanta.

Well, as we say down here the south, they can all kiss my grits.

LAC

September 13th, 2009
6:21 pm

Correct WBF, don cherry is a bigger IDIOT than even don waddell, I
honestly believe he is DRUNK or on dope every time he is on HNIC,
just a complete basket case who needs to be PUT AWAY someplace !

Aroha

September 13th, 2009
6:26 pm

Looking for someone to step up and be #1 goalie puts a real downer on the start to the season for me. I hope someone can step up to the plate. It would be nice if just one year we could start the season with all cylinders firing. I know Kari can be the goalie we need, he’s just not consistent enough. But hey if Kovy is confident and actually signs SOON then I’m not gonna worry about it. The difference between kovy and Hossa is kovy wants to be here. Hopefully the deal gets done sooner rather than later but I don’t think it will become the issue that Hossa was.

[...] AJC Blog, September 13, 2009 “Right now, he’s not in the mix,” Anderson said of Lehtonen. “Saying he’s No. 1, that’s not true. I’ll put him in when he’s actually ready, but right now the No. 1 job is up for grabs. Right now there are four guys that look really good out there. “I want to make sure we get off to a good start and I want to establish a No. 1 goalie early on. If Kari is not here [finding a No. 1 goalie] is a priority of our training camp.” [...]

Daculafan

September 13th, 2009
6:42 pm

Chirs,

I was great to meet you and have a chance to talk hockey with you during the camp. I think the squads looked good and up beat and am looking forward to the games on Monday and Tuesday.

Perhaps you can get a scoop on the shape Pavelec is in..he looked a little winded to me during the closing skate before they came off the ice.

DWTOO

September 13th, 2009
6:43 pm

It was good to see the familiar faces at procatice this AM. Did anyone ntice Slava and Manny horsing around? They appeared to be having fun gettinbg after each other. Other highlight was Hainsey’s loud F Bomb during a quiet moment.

Dwayne

September 13th, 2009
7:12 pm

I’ll be glad when Kovy signs also. Maybe him resigning will at least give other top players reason to give Atlanta a look.

Brendan

September 13th, 2009
7:21 pm

Did Waddell say he’s still interested in trading a goalie to improve the roster? Or is that “over now?” Or, are John Anderson’s comments designed to bait/drum up interest in Kari Lehtonen?

If Kari plays like he did down the 12-6 stretch, would he be our #1 goalie? I mean, assuming his health is fine. I know Pavelec would like to the Thrashers #1 goalie.

[...] Thrashers Blog:  Kovalchuk hopeful for new contract.  Good news if you are a Thrashers fan. [...]

Get The Puck Out

September 13th, 2009
8:01 pm

Pleaseeeee, not another year with goalie tryouts during this season ! Ta heck with Zherdev. Sounds like we need to find a starting goalie.

World Be Free

September 13th, 2009
8:04 pm

Why did it take so long for NHL Network to air a couple old, vintage games? We could have had a couple of these this summer, instead of the constant regurgitation of 2009 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

Great to see the boards with no advertisements, no loud music in the background, very few helmets and a lotta clean checking. You very rarely saw guys get ran behind in the old days, players had more respect for each other.

I like today’s game, but there’s nothing like old time hockey. Rick Dudley cruising around the ice in his headband.

World Be Free

September 13th, 2009
8:54 pm

Sara, I see a difference between U.S. and Canadian media outlets.
So many of the U.S. outlets concentrate on the big, traditional NHL cities. If you’re not in these cities, you really don’t receive the proper research or coverage. Most of these reports approach Atlanta as a Siberian outpost. Very inaccurate, to say the least.

The biggest group of idiots is at ESPN. How that network has fallen, it’s incredible. I like Barnaby, Melrose and Burnside, but the rest don’t know a hockey puck from a steak biscuit. Terry Frei is a complete idiot. You want to see how far ESPN has fallen as a network? Just look at the cast of clowns they have covering college football.

The Canadian media designs their coverage as ultra-negative, very personal and it’s not just Atlanta. Any team south of the Mason Dixie Line is fair game for their negativity. This all goes back to the first expansion when Los Angeles and Oakland were targets of Canadian discontent because they were not deserving of getting NHL teams. I laughed when Gretzky was traded/sold to the Kings! To them, everything would be OK if our teams were moved to Regina, Moose Jaw, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Quebec City and Hamilton. Of those teams, only Winnipeg is a true NHL city. You wanna move the Phoenix Coyotes anywhere, move them back to Winnipeg where it came from. The rest of the cities are not worthy, unless you are a Canadian reporter.

LAC-Cherry was creditable back in the 80’s when he first surfaced as a commentator. Then he became so pro-Canadian and anti-everything else. Now he’s become hockey’s version of John Madden, except Madden knew when to hang ‘em up. Cherry will never retire, he’ll croak on the air and they’ll bury him in the gondola at the Air Canada Centre. He might jump out of the box when the Leafs win the Stanley Cup. Oh, I forgot, that will never happen!

Sean

September 14th, 2009
2:05 am

Any word from Kovy on the Zherdev situation. I guess he wouldn’t have said anything on the record, but I’m curious to know.

Lee

September 14th, 2009
7:06 am

great news chris! glad to know that something is progressing, so now lets drop da puck!

Bob

September 14th, 2009
8:34 am

Great to hear that from Kovy, that sounds like he’ll sign before the season starts.

Now it makes sense why they brought in all these new goalies to compete. They are moving away from Kari as he’s shown he just can’t stay healthy, which is smart management. Wait, what?

J.B.

September 14th, 2009
8:45 am

Chris – I’d also like to know whether the topic of Zherdev came up when interviewing Kovalchuk. I saw you on Sunday as well, but had my hands too full juggling a toddler to come say hello or much less talk hockey. Love the articles from camp. Thanks so much.

To my surprise Don Waddell engaged me in conversation at the Ice Forum this weekend unsolicited. Knowing of course that I wouldn’t get an honest answer, I asked him about Z coming here. He said, and I quote, “That’s a long-shot”. Anyhow, he gave my son ‘5′ and talked to him a bit too; so that was pretty cool.

From what I saw nearly everyone looked great out there. We’re going to blow some peoples’ minds this season…

Smoothie

September 14th, 2009
10:26 am

Apparently, we did in fact re-sign LaVallee to a 1 year, 2-way contract for $500 K right before camp (per capgeek.com). There were a lot of questions about his desire to return, but he probably didn’t have any other offers. And some, including myself, may have thought he was on a tryout contract only.

Bob, I agree with you that it is smart management to move forward (not necessarily away from Karrpa) with other options in net to a) put pressure on Lehtonen to step up his game and b) cultivate depth at the position to protect against a repeat of what happened in 2005-06 with the game of musical goaltenders we played all season long. I just wonder if Olie Kolzig or Manny Fernandez would have been better options than Legace. I mean we already have a relative “smurf” in Hedberg.

Smoothie

September 14th, 2009
10:29 am

J.B. – that’s awesome man. By all accounts, DWad is a lovely man and quite affable no matter who he’s conversing with. The fact that he made conversation with you is pretty cool. I think he’s right about Zherdev because he knows the ASG will not give up the revenue sharing…catch 22 I suppose, but I’d rather have the cap flexibility at the trade deadline than get “stuck” with Zherdev. We have enough potential chemistry issues with newcomers Antro, Kubina and potentially Kane.

J.B.

September 14th, 2009
10:32 am

Incidentally, did anyone notice Ondrej Pavalec’s mask? He’s got a new one that just has the Thrashers logo on it jettisoning the previous mask with both Thrash and Wolves graphics. I’m guessing this means he won’t be throwing a hissy fit this year and feels confident about playing time with the big boys. Also, unless I’m mistaken, the left side of the mask had a depiction of the iconic Fabulous Fox Theater sign on it. I’d love to hear why he put that on there; seems COMPLETELY random.

Smoothie

September 14th, 2009
11:00 am

Per Ben at camp: “Eric Boulton is putting on a scoring clinic versus Ondrej Pavelec. and he’s loving every second of it. Pavelec might not hear the end of it.”

If that’s the case, then Ondrej needs to go retrieve his old mask. Getting schooled by Boultsy is not the mark of a # 1 NHL goalie.

kracker

September 14th, 2009
11:08 am

J.B. – About Zherdev > “[DW] said, and I quote, “That’s a long-shot”.”

I have to take Waddell at his word, in this case. If they were thinking to really try to bring Zherdev in if Kane doesn’t cut it, I think he would have given some other type of answer.

ben

September 14th, 2009
11:24 am

i always thought Z was a rumor.

Tim

September 14th, 2009
12:37 pm

WBF, while I do agree that Winnipeg would be the ideal city to move the Coyottes to if indeed the team move, Quebec City is also a hockey city. The Nordiques moved out not because of lack of interess from the fans but from not able to get a new stadium and generate new revenue. And Canadiens-Nordiques rivalry is just as good if not better and bitter then Coloradi/Detroit back in the old day. :) About the other cities that you named, I don’t think a NHL team would be very viable there.

GaVaHokie

September 14th, 2009
2:00 pm

Well, Waddell also said “we’re not interested” when Mark Recchi was put on waivers … Recchi was on the team the next day.

I asked Recchi about that during Casino Night and he said he talked to Waddell a week before he was put on waivers and Waddell said “we’re gonna take you.”

I guess you take away all expectations and everything becomes a pleasant surprise.

Brendan

September 14th, 2009
10:31 pm

“Zhitnik will be a big part of our season.” “We never have discussed the possibility of a buyout.” “I only made a playoff guarantee to deflect discussion away from Kovalchuk’s illegal stick.” Allright, that last one’s not exactly right. I defer to to Tom for all “documented” Waddell fabrications. GM’s are politicians. Except that they can’t be VOTED OUT, unless ‘Proposition 236′ passes, and we all hope it does.

Hey, when does the KHL start its season? If it’s before the NHL does, shouldn’t Zherdev being locking up his contract over there? I know the purpose of camp, one of them anyways, is to evaluate talent. Trying to get the roster to gel, is another. Towards this end, (a fully established roster, ready for Game #1 of 82,) how is it “unknown” what Zherdev’s capabilities are? Is it an “unsafe assumption” that he would outperform PROSPECTS in the farm system?

I’m just asking a question.

Gilley

September 15th, 2009
7:50 am

Legace is the man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He looks fantastic!!!

World Be Free

September 15th, 2009
8:30 am

Tim-the Habs/Nords rivalry games were some of the best ever. As Bob Cole said during a playoff game between the 2 teams “this is bad blood”. Even regular season games between the 2 teams in early October special. The Nords didn’t like Boston or Buffalo either. Their coach, Michel Bergeron was a litte punk-he needed to be taken out back to the woodshed.

But Quebec City did little to retain the team. Their attitude was designed more to preserve a WHA team than an NHL team. No local owners stepped up to keep the team in Quebec City. They had a much-publisized “Save the Nordiques” rally in the city-50 people showed up.
I disliked the Nordiques, because they were a pretty dirty team. But they played old time hockey, that’s for sure.

Winnipeg should have never lost their team. You can blame local government for not stepping in, or local groups for not assembling the capital to keep the team in Winnipeg. But it’s a great hockey town that deserves a team, alot more than Hamilton!

PMain

September 15th, 2009
1:20 pm

Cherry is actually very pro-American.
Ragging on Canada’s hockey media strikes me as odd.
Kovalchuk signing with Atlanta would be seen by most
hockey fans as a good thing on either side of the border,
as Atlanta has a long tradition of NHL membership.

The comment about no Cup in Canada for 16 years is asinine,
as while nine of the 6-CDN based teams has won since then
every Cup winning team has a lot of important players who
are Canadian. It doesn’t keep us up at night that we have not
had an NHL-based team win a Cup in 16 years. We know we’re
the best playing hockey nation in the world and make up 60%
of the NHL’s talent base, including Bryan Little and 20 other
guys listed as on your roster here: http://thrashers.nhl.com/club/roster.htm.

That comment always makes me laugh.

In fact, only about two non-Canadian captains
has ever won the Cup (Leetch, Lidstrom)
and only about 3 or 4 playoff MVPs have ever been non-Canadian:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conn_Smythe_Trophy.

RS

September 15th, 2009
1:45 pm

**cough** Derian Hatcher, ‘99 Stars…..