Kovalchuk contract talks continue, Hedberg to start in goal

Just back from the morning skate for tonight’s game against Montreal. Didn’t the Thrashers just play them?

Why yes, this is the Thrashers’ fourth and final game against the Canadiens, who were just in town nine days ago. The Thrashers played two games in Montreal in the span of 14 days and the end of October, beginning of November.

There is no new update on the Ilya Kovalchuk contract talks. I have talked to both sides in the past week. Kovalchuk’s agent was in town on Saturday and talks continue. Kovalchuk stated again on Monday morning that he would like to stay with the same team his whole career. However, he understands that hockey is a business.

It is my understanding that there is no truth to the recent trade rumors, including a trade to Vancouver. I will continue to chase the story and provide updates when relevant.

One piece of bad news for the Thrashers is Andrei Markov is back in the Canadiens lineup. After missing more than two months with a leg injury, Markov returned Saturday and scored two power-play goals in a win over the Islanders.

His fellow Russian countryman, Ilya Kovalchuk, said he is  glad to see him back – but would rather see him as a teammate in the Olympics than as an opposing  defenseman. “It’s good for you guys,” Kovalchuk told the Montreal media. “It’s not good for the teams that play against him.”

Johan Hedberg will start in goal for the Thrashers. He beat the Canadiens 4-3 on Dec. 12 on Kovalchuk’s overtime goal.

Eric Boulton, Anssi Salmela and Mark Popovic are the scratches.

The team will skate with the same lines as they did in Sunday’s practice:

Kovalchuk-Antropov-Afinogenov

Kozlov-Peverley-Little

Kane-White-Armstrong

Slater-Reasoner-Thorburn

Defensive pairings remain the same:

Enstrom-Kubina

Hainsey-Bogosian

Schubert-Valabik

After tonight’s game, Thrashers are on the road for the next seven games and won’t play again at home until Jan. 7 against the Rangers.

26 comments Add your comment

MJMcReynolds

December 21st, 2009
12:16 pm

Viv you have anything on the situation between Kovy and the team with the negotiations on sat?

Chris Vivlamore

December 21st, 2009
12:22 pm

MJMcReynolds: I’ve updated the blog with the little update I have. Kovy’s agent was in town and left on Sunday. Talks continue.

R. Stroz

December 21st, 2009
12:23 pm

Kovalchuk stated again on Monday morning that he would like to stay with the same team his whole career. However, he understands that hockey is a business.

CViv – Did Kovy seem sincere with the statement or did you get the feeling he was just trying to deflect the issue?

MJMcReynolds

December 21st, 2009
12:27 pm

Thanks for the update!

Toby

December 21st, 2009
12:32 pm

Chris,

Thanks for updating us on the Kovy talk. RDS is another outlet reporting that Kovy wants 10-12 years/ $11 million a year. Any hint this is true. If so, I hope Dub is picking up the phone to start the bidding. That would kill ANY franchise.

Smoothie

December 21st, 2009
12:32 pm

Thanks C-Viv for the update, but Kovy’s poker face has been pretty good through this whole affair. It helps to be a stoic Russian as we can’t tell how sincere or not he’s being. Unfortunately, his play of late is telling a different story.

Wow, no home games between now and 1/7/10. Ouch!! That’s 17 days!! Hello. We thought they were road warriors early in the season. After the Canadian swing in early December, we’re not so sure. I hope this mega-roadie doesn’t seal our fate w/r/t the playoffs. 5 games over .500 now and it sure would be nice to win tonite and get to 6 as insurance for a dismal road trip.

Not much to feel giddy about lately when it comes to the T-birds eh?

Chris Vivlamore

December 21st, 2009
12:34 pm

R. Stroz: This is just my take, but everyone has seemed sincere in this: Kovy, his agent and Don Waddell. It’s no secret that Kovy has told the Thrashers he wants to remain here. You can never tell with contract negotiations until pen is to paper, but all indications I have is talks continue in a positive direction.

Chris Vivlamore

December 21st, 2009
12:37 pm

Toby: All I can say is that to be knowledge those figures can’t be accurate because, according to Waddell, they haven’t talked financial terms yet. Just length of deal to this point.

five_hole

December 21st, 2009
12:46 pm

If they are really negotiating in good faith, then I am confident a deal will get done. That means Kovy does in fact want to stay here and DW knows he will have to pony up to current market conditions. Unless Kovy demands are unreasonable or Waddell tries to do this “on the cheap”, it will happen.

People have been blogging about Kovy “taking plays off because he wants a trade” but isn’t it just as likely that he wants a new deal done before he potentially gets hurt (and therefore loses market value)?

If/when this happens, it means that either Slava or Lehtonen’s stay here is done. One of their salaries will be used to pay for Kovy.

Cribbster

December 21st, 2009
12:48 pm

Good to hear Kovy wants to stay in Atlanta. The Caps are my No. 1 team though, and I can’t say I’d argue with making him a second-line winger in Washington… Totally awesome decision or what?

[...] Hedberg in nets for the Thrashers writes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution.  He will face Jaroslav Halak as reported by Pat Hickey of Habs [...]

Coastiesurf

December 21st, 2009
1:18 pm

Kovy is taking plays off as seen here and against NJ, if this guy is wearing the C he should play like it, no matter what is happening in the front office. If is doesn’t want to play for the rabid Atlanta fans and this building francise, deal him….lets see what he can do tonight against the Habs, cause against NJ he was useless

Bob

December 21st, 2009
1:24 pm

“understands it’s a business” means the rumors of being far apart in negotiations are true. I wouldn’t believe Waddell one bit if he’s telling you they haven’t discussed anything beyond years. They been negotiating this contract for so many months, it ludicrous for him to claim they haven’t discussed anything beyond the term of the deal.

Alan R.

December 21st, 2009
1:27 pm

It’s no secret that Kovalchuk is taking shifts off. Rather than blame the lazy play on contract disputes. I believe it has more to do with the Olympics. Wait and see – he will be flying hard in mid Feb. He wants, deep in his heart, to win Olympic gold with Russia.

[...] ATL JOHAN HEDBERG [...]

Thrashy Thrashy

December 21st, 2009
1:44 pm

Yeah. I’m not buying the “Kovy as quitter because of contract talks” crap. Like most pure offensive players, he floats in and out of the game sometimes. That floating provides a strong argument against paying him max money, but I don’t think he’s making a deliberate attempt to sabotage his own team and force a trade.

Hollywould

December 21st, 2009
2:35 pm

Chris, thanks for the info. I don’t believe Kovy at all on the one team crap. If so, why not go ahead and sign? Does he really believe he can get 10 mill here and not hurt the team? Who would have to get axed for that to happen? I agree with Alan, watch out for the Olympics. I wish Anderson would sit him tonite as he has done nothing but turn the puck over and be lazy. I saw on another blog he is called COASTulchuk. Dead on.

LAC

December 21st, 2009
3:25 pm

Chris, Good you are trying to get correct info on this contract mess,
however, I would not believe LIAR waddell for anything, “No $ amount yet” Who does he think he is kidding… with his play of late and failure to lead, I say trade him and try to rebuild with what’s here and what we get back, He has Quit on Atlanta. If he goes, I sure hope he takes waddell with him, what a TERRIBLE GM !

stendec

December 21st, 2009
3:30 pm

A victory tonight is mandatory for any playoff aspirations! A loss would allow continutation of a slide into who knows how many games. A triumph would stop the bleeding at least temporarily. I like Kari Lehtonen right now more than I do El Kapitan Ilya “Defense?” Kovalchuk. The Russian is killing my team with his uncaring apathetic unefforts. The Finn will not start hurting my team again until he returns between the pipes. Peace all ++STENDEC++ Longtime friend on inside says IK not being honest or forthright with fans. No Maryann Hossa mode? Think again!

Dan

December 21st, 2009
3:38 pm

Only 4 people know the truth about the negotiations and if anyone thinks DW, Kovy or his agent are going to be completely honest with the public they are kidding themselves.

The bottom line is if Kovy wants 10 years/11.5 per, then the Thrashers need to trade him. As much as it would hurt hockey in Atlanta, having a one star team with low level players around him due to the salary cap will never spell long term success. Plus, if he is going to be that selfish (which I really don’t think he is) and doesn’t understand how much of a negative effect a contract of that length and $$’s would be to the success fo the team, then he needs to go.

Look at Pittsburgh..they have Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Fleury, Letang and more. They don’t have their money locked up in one person and because of that they will be in the playoffs consistently. They will also be able to maintain a core longer since no one person is max’d out. Detroit was that way for a long time and not surprisingly , Chicago has done it recently (now they just need to get rid of that bad Campbell contract).

As hard as it is, we as fans shouldn’t be worried about the contract, but instead we just need to focus on supporting these guys and happy that we are sitting in the #5 spot at this point in the season. The guys are great on the road, so after tonight, hopefully the next road trip will help us put some distance between the Teams below us.

Are there things we need to fix? Yes. Every Team has things they can fix. Let’s just be happy we have less to fix than in year’s past.

[...] latest from Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution states that the talks between the two are currently at a stand still.  However, Kovalchuk went on [...]

Sage of NERDSland

December 21st, 2009
5:04 pm

“Didn’t the Thrashers just play them?”

I wouldn’t know, since THEY DON’T BROADCAST THE DAMN GAMES!!

Christmas vacation, and no hockey to watch!!

Darkhorse

December 21st, 2009
5:12 pm

I know DW said in the past he would not entertain a front or backloaded type of contract, but in the case of Kovy and a small market team like Atlanta, I would make an exception to keep us competitive. So far none of the other teams in the NHL have been slapped with any league fines or such for their questionable contracts. Ten year deal with a bigger lump coming out of the cap in the last two or three years of the deal. That gives us a little more flex time in the next few years, and thus able to stay competitive on paper. Kovy gets his cash, or close to it, and we can still field a better team in his prime. More cap space for forwards and dmen that actually play defense and can cover Kovy’s sorry ass on the backend.

Bob

December 21st, 2009
6:55 pm

Darkhorse, you can’t do that with the cap. You can front or backload a contract to help a fiscal budget the club may have, but if do a 10 year deal where you pay a guy $1m for 5 years, then $15 million for the 2nd 5 years, the cap hit for each and every one of the 10 years is still $8m per year.

Bob

December 21st, 2009
7:06 pm

Hey Sara and Earl of Bud, Derwood Eliot was on Toronto radio today and said the same thing I’ve been trying to get you to figure out since last week. Kovy’s contract is big trouble and is reflected in his play:
http://www.fan590.com/media.jsp?content=20091221_134617_7608

Brendan

December 21st, 2009
10:14 pm

Brodeur just broke Terry Sawchuk’s record with a 4-0 win over the Penguins, IN PITTSBURGH!!