Kovalchuk not frustrated by contract talks

I spent a few minutes talking to Ilya Kovalchuk after Wednesday’s practice. I wanted to get his response from the following questions:

Are you frustrated by the ongoing contract negotiations and the time that has elapsed?

Are you still confident (as he said earlier this season) that a new deal will get done?

Here are his responses:

Thrashers star Ilya Kovalchuk told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday that he is not frustrated by ongoing contract negotiations. Kovalchuk, who will become an unrestricted free agent after the season, also said he remains confident a deal will get done.

“No, not really,” Kovalchuk said when asked if he was frustrated with the length of time that has elapsed. “I just try to focus on my game and my goal to make the playoffs. I don’t care about the contract situation. Everybody goes through it. It’s not frustrating at all. …

“It’s not easy to sign a deal. Whatever it takes, we’ll take our time.”

Negotiations between the Thrashers and Kovalchuk, the franchise’s all-time leader in games, points, goals and assists, have been ongoing for much of the season. In October, Kovalchuk gave his agent the go-ahead to work on a new deal, satisfied with the team’s offseason acquisitions and its early-season performance.

However, a contract agreement has not been reached months later. The NHL will take a two-week hiatus for the Winter Olympics in February and the league’s trade deadline is March 3.

“Yes, I feel very confident,” Kovalchuk said. “Like I said, I like everything that’s been done over time. It’s not an easy thing to sign a long-term deal and if it has to take until the last second, that’s what it takes. You never know.”

Thrashers general manager Don Waddell told the AJC on Monday that his first choice remains to sign Kovalchuk, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 draft. Waddell did acknowledge that a trade was a possibility for the organization should contract talks reach an impasse.

Waddell said that both sides have a contract proposal on the table.

“We are at a difference of what the player should be paid,” Waddell said.

80 comments Add your comment

Patrick

January 13th, 2010
3:05 pm

FIRST!

And if they don’t re-sign them, so help me, I will personally find Don Waddell.

Lee

January 13th, 2010
3:06 pm

Lee

January 13th, 2010
3:12 pm

Good, I’m glad Kovy isn’t frustrated, good think he isn’t or he wouldn’t be here. Now I think Don Waddell, is absolutley a good GM, now does he belong in the NHL? No, I don’t think so. I just don’t think he belongs here. I don’t blame him for not signing Kovy, it’s not easy, ecspecially when you are the GM of the thrashers. I actually think he has given a lot of effort, and those that say “Oh I can take of Waddell’s job” No, I don’t think you could. It’s hard, and I’m pretty proud of the guy, but he just doesn’t fit in with the NHL.

J.B.

January 13th, 2010
3:36 pm

Take this for what it’s worth; I’m curious about y’alls interpretations of it… I sent a tweet to Jay Grossman, mostly out of boredom certainly not expecting a response. It went as follows:

@Jay_Grossman Re:Ilya… Is there still hope for ATL fans or should we resign ourselves to being put out of our misery in the near future?

Surprise, Surprise, I got a response back. Here’s what Kovy’s agent said:

@braggjc as a fan, like calling your local cable operator and saying you want NFL Network. Otherwise, no doors have been shut by anyone.

Now, I took this to mean the sticking point is money, and only a little bit of it at that. My cable costs me about 85 bucks a month, but I think I could get the NFL network added for like 10 bucks or something. Is this how y’all interpret this? It’s a bit cryptic, but I think that’s what he was getting at without revealing to much.

If it’s only a small amount of money holding things up right now, I’d think DW/FUASG is likely to cave soon and pay it rather than gamble with a trade scenario…

Thoughts?

Diego from Lilburn

January 13th, 2010
3:36 pm

Of course HE’s not frustrated. He is gonna get paid multi-millions by SOMEBODY. If it isn’t the Thrashers then it will be somebody else. Why would that frustrate HIM???

It’s the REST of the team that’s frustrated. I think it has played a large part in their recent slide.

I was at the game last night and it was a blast! The whole team chipped in and it was great! I’ll be back on Thursday for the repeat!

Chris Vivlamore

January 13th, 2010
3:45 pm

I should also add that I asked Kovalchuk if he thought the talks were/could become a distraction (ie Hossa). He said they were not. Basically, they are all grown men, who have gone through contract talks before, and are focused on the task at hand.

Sage of Bluesland

January 13th, 2010
3:48 pm

Great win last night, but where were all those goals against the Caps??

Hey, Vivs: If Kovy re-signs here, how long before Atlanta appears in a Winter Classic?

deaf ears

January 13th, 2010
3:50 pm

So Kovy is holding out over $10?

TRADE HIM NOW!!!

Alan R.

January 13th, 2010
3:50 pm

J.B., if what Grossman said is true, then FUBAS is going to have to cave sooner or later. I don’t think it’s D-Wad’s choice of whether or not to do anything. I see D-Wad as more like a puppet, and FUBAS are the puppeteers — at least, as far as money goes. Let’s assume the figure that was posted up in here is the truth: 12yrs/$100mil ($8.333mil/yr). Now, let’s further assume that Grossman is truthful. Would that put the figure at something more akin to 12yrs/$108mil ($9m/yr)? Are we talking even more ($9.25m/yr; $111mil)?

If the difference is really that small, just pay the man already.

J.B.

January 13th, 2010
3:53 pm

whoa! let’s not open a can of worms here. suddenly there will be rumors all over the internet that the sticking point is ten dollars.

It was JUST an analogy. I was trying to present a comparison that most people could relate to based on what Grossman wrote in his reply.

kracker

January 13th, 2010
3:55 pm

“We are at a difference of what the player should be paid,” Waddell said.

If that is really the sticking point, then it may indeed be a last minute deal…if the difference isn’t too great. The kind of thing where they agree to split the difference. If they are far apart, who knows.

J.B.

January 13th, 2010
4:02 pm

Alan – Yeah, using the scenario numbers you presented, I would guess they are both good guesses; hell, both asking possible prices you mentioned are only $1/4 M off from each other, which in the grand scheme of things is not much. Once you’re at that price point, does it make a difference if you make $9M or $9.25? Certainly not enough to hold up a contract of this importance…

Bob

January 13th, 2010
4:20 pm

J.B., I think what he meant by his reply is that you should call up the Spirit/Waddell (the cable company) and tell them you want Kovy (the NFL Network). He’s telling you that if the fans press them, mabye they’ll pay what Grossman is demanding. Seems like a smarmy answers.

Chris, did you ask Kovy the followup question? “Ok, you say the contact is bothering you or the club, but why then does your and the team’s play show us that something is wrong, what is it then if it’s not the contract?”

Diego from Lilburn

January 13th, 2010
4:26 pm

Bob – I’m with you! He can say it’s not bothering him or the team and that they are all professionals but the team consisted of Professionals when the Hossa deal was tanking and it showed then.

Heck, I’m a professional and when I get disallusioned at work it affects my performance. Why wouldn’t it their’s?

For the Captain and face of the organization to sit there and pretend that his holding out is not impacting the team is just juvenile.

timthebrave

January 13th, 2010
4:27 pm

It’s amazing what one freaking win can do. I feel better already. Just keep winning and pay him the money…Go Thrashers

Dunwoody Joe

January 13th, 2010
4:33 pm

All the leverage is with Kovy. Not stressed and in no hurry is the best approach for Kovy. He will command at least 10M/year wherever he goes next so the pressure is squarely on DW.

Who should lose his job if Kovy leaves?: DW
Where will the fan outrage focus if Kovy leaves?: DW
Where might the frnachise relocate if Kovy leaves: Winnepeg

Kovy holds all the cards, so let’s not quibble over a few bucks–pay the man! Tick-tock DW.

jcwhitingjr

January 13th, 2010
4:38 pm

I’m sorry, Kovy isn’t worth 10m a year and this team isn’t going anywhere either way, that’s just Candadian wishful thinking.

There is no way Kovy will get more money than Ovechkin from any team.

Lee

January 13th, 2010
4:43 pm

Winter Classic?! Psh, they won’t make it until then!

Tight5

January 13th, 2010
4:51 pm

I’ll take this opportunity to throw out my standard question for this situation…When was the last time a legit superstar turned down the opportunity to move to a winner as a free agent in order to stay with his perpetual loser team? (Examples are probably out there but none jump to mind)

Get To It

January 13th, 2010
5:01 pm

Sounds like the Atlanta Thrasher Fan Club needs to start making telephone calls to their sales representatives.

ATFC – If you support hockey in Atlanta, show some intiative, and let the Thrashers’ brass know that Kovy is important to hockey in Atlanta.

Jimbo

January 13th, 2010
5:12 pm

Just when the boys looked DOA, the pulse flickers. The ESPN.com coverage of the Thrash options for trading The Koaster is interesting. I’d take the Calgary or Boston options. The Koaster is long gone, let’s accept it and move on.

GT Hockey

January 13th, 2010
5:26 pm

As much as I would love to keep Kovy, and even though he is the face of this franchise, it would be stupid for the Thrashers to give him 10m/yr. He’s simply not worth that much, and that would only hurt the team in the long run as it would take away from the money that we could use to sign other players. If we can keep Kovy.. great. But if we have to part with him.. hopefully DW can get a great return for him.

R. Stroz

January 13th, 2010
5:29 pm

J.B. – Lets assume, yes I know that can be dangerous, Grossman sent you a plethora of veiled information.

That said, here is info on the NFL network as it applies to Comcast in the Atlanta area:

As of November 30, 2009 the NFL Network is available only on the Digital Preferred package on Comcast in Atlanta, GA and not on a Digital Classic package (which does not exist). This is contrary to the above mentioned agreement between Comcast and the NFL. The Preferred Package is being advertised by Comcast as an additional $9.99 per month for 12 months which includes the NFL Network in high definition.

Now looking at Grossman’s tweet in this context, this what I gleen:

1) Grossman and Waddell are off by 1.0 million per year, using the $9.99 cost of the NFL network above.

2) Waddell has floated the idea to Grossman that the Thrashers fans aren’t all that concerned about Kovy staying.

So here is what Grossman is telling Thrasher fans to do:

1) Call the Thrashers and tell them: YOU WANT YOUR KOVY (kind of like the old I WANT MY MTV).

2) Let the Thrashers organization know that losing Kovy will jeopardize your willingness to purchase tickets in the future.

Waddell has been leaking info as a trial balloon to see how Thrasher fans will respond to losing Kovy for weeks. Now, Grossman has returned the serve.

Here’s an idea for Grossman and Waddell, split the difference and get the deal done.

J(Z)

January 13th, 2010
5:31 pm

Tight5 – Rick Nash just resigned with the CBJ’s this offseason.

R. Stroz

January 13th, 2010
5:35 pm

BTW, if Kovy doesn’t re-sign, does anyone really think we have a chance of re-signing Afinogenov, Kubina, or Armstrong.

If your answer is yes, but the bong down.

NERDS!!! 30-24!!!

January 13th, 2010
6:06 pm

I

Want

My

M

T

V……!!!

Smoothie

January 13th, 2010
6:15 pm

Stroz, I don’t think I really want Afinogenov back. Assuming we keep Kovy that is. Finny is the same player without the finishing moves. We don’t need that. We need better D from our forwards and unless Finny can start scoring 40 goals a year (doubtful), I’ll graciously thank him for his service and give him a recommendation for a new team.

I want Kaner playing RW next year on the 2nd line. Little should be playing C, period. Antropov is a RW, he is not a C. Go with:

Kovy — B-Lits — Antro

FA — Pevs — Kane

Slater – Reasy – Army (I hope) or Machacek

Boults — White – Thor

But that new LW must be a solid 2-way forward capable of scoring 20 goals. Are any available in FA this summer? If we lose Kovy, then we’re looking at having to find 2 new LW potentially unless we leave Kane at LW. But I really believe Kane will develop into a great RW.

R. Stroz

January 13th, 2010
6:42 pm

Smoothie – Here’s a list of left wing UFA’s, the list is UN-GOOD, other than Kovy.

http://nhlnumbers.com/freeagents.php?team=none&pos=L&summer=none&status=none&type=none

Jason

January 13th, 2010
6:46 pm

Shouldn’t they be at differences with whether or not Waddell should be paid at all?

10 years and nothing zip nada to show for it. PAY THE MAN HIS MONEY AND GET OUT OF TOWN WADDELL!!!!!!!

Rob

January 13th, 2010
6:48 pm

Kovy is asking for two things that cannot co-exist. He wants a contract at the league max. He also wants to play on a team that can contend. It doesn’t matter what team you play for, the NHL salary cap does not give enough room for one player to make the league max and still allow enough money available under the cap to sign a capable supporting cast. There has to be enough room UNDER THE CAP, not just in the pockets of the ownership, to fill out a roster that can win. I love Kovy, but I don’t think the thrashers can win if we pay him what he is asking.

Hotrod

January 13th, 2010
7:27 pm

9 million / season

(performance clause)

make playoffs that year – 1 more million

Boom – done

R. Stroz

January 13th, 2010
7:27 pm

Actually, we don’t know if Kovy has requested league max for the life of the contract. I wouldn’t be surprised if Waddell floated that rumor so Waddell could safe face with the fan base if he trades Kovy.

Now, if Kovy is actually requesting league max, and we may never know until after everything is said and done, then Kovy is trying to get his cake and eat it too.

So, if Kovy wants league max, the chance his name will appear on the Cup someday aren’t good.

My guess, and it’s just a guess, Kovy is asking for an average cap hit per year of 10 million and the Thrashers are offering an average cap hit of 9 million per year.

The problem could be easily solved by splitting the difference, 9.5 million per year.

R. Stroz

January 13th, 2010
7:29 pm

OOPS! That should state “save face” not “safe face”.

spjacket

January 13th, 2010
7:47 pm

58,100,000 – wow i feel really good now

Lee

January 13th, 2010
7:56 pm

Actually, I think Finny has been outstanding with the thrashers. Last year he had a total of 6 goals the whole year, with the thrashers, he’s had 16 goals and the seaon isn’t even over yet. Re-sign him!

Richard the Lionheart

January 13th, 2010
9:07 pm

Enough of this “Finny” nonsense: I hereby dub thee “MAX!!!”

Jimglare

January 13th, 2010
9:11 pm

Jay’s comment about Nfl network really didn’t say anything about the specific situation, it could be applied to any sports negotiation where the parties differ on money. As fans, we’re actually totally irrelevent to the negotiations, except that if no deal happens, as was the case with NFL network, we will be the victims.

It’s also similar in that we have no leverage over one of the parties – Kovalchuk, who is equivalent to NFL network in this case – and our only leverage over the other party – Donny and the thrashers, equivalent to comcast – is to threaten to walk. Hit them in the pocketbook.

I think it’s pretty silly to suggest that Grossman was trying to tell you exactly what the difference in offers is. What he’s doing is cynically suggesting that as fans, we tell the ooooorganization “sign Kovalchuk *or else.*” This would help Grossman’s interests, of course. He’s right, though, in that there’s almost nothing else we can do. One thing we can do to support the other side is the same thing that Ottowa did about Heatley: there was a fan revolt against him, and his brand was permanently damaged. This probably isn’t enough of a hockey town for that to happen, and even if it did it probably wouldn’t matter.

However, don’t forget one thing: Jay Grossman does not care about you.

Toby

January 13th, 2010
9:39 pm

JB

Why did you tweet him back saying you understand? Why don’t you ask what he meant?

Jimbo

January 13th, 2010
9:46 pm

Smoothie and Stroz- you two are guilty of constantly “re-arranging the deck chairs on our Titanic”. We need a massive change not tinkering with the paint job.

James

January 13th, 2010
10:43 pm

If Kovy is signed there will be plenty of whiners who say we paid too much at any price. And then there are those who believe that no team has ever benefitted (in the history of sports) from trading a superstar in his prime and the Thrashers will not be the first. Not to mention if he does not sign he will likely test the FA market at the end of the season and thus be a rental (meaning a third liner and a couple picks) I happen to be a big Kovy fan and it may take a year or two before I consider buying season tickets again. Either way, I have faith Wadds will do whats best for the long term health of the Hamilton Thrashers.

NYC

January 13th, 2010
10:57 pm

NERDS!!! 30-24!!!!………….that was funny!

R. Stroz

January 13th, 2010
11:36 pm

Well Jimbo, how would you fix the ship?

I’ve been a proponent of changing the GM for years and getting talented large young physical players to mix in with a few finesse players.

In other words, no more White, Kapanen, Klee, Modry types.

Anyway Jimbo, how would you fix or construct the ship?

Darkhorse

January 14th, 2010
12:00 am

The ASG need new investors. Why don’t they sell the Thrashers to Kovy and a few others with his fat new deal? The franchise isn’t worth much more(relatively speaking) than the contract Kovy’s going to get from someone. Then he could fire Waddell for us! LOL…..

Brendan

January 14th, 2010
12:43 am

Interesting comments, from bloggers, Kovy, Grossman, and Waddell. Guess who I want to hear from, the most?

Bueller? Bueller?? Bueller?

Where the FREAK is our ownership? They leave a decision as important as this one is … to Don Waddell, to exclusively handle. They should, like Ted Leonsis with Ovechkin, get it done, PERSONALLY. Here’s my guess as to the “day-to-day” situation.

DW: “Hi Jay. Just callin’ to touch base.”

JG: “Thanks.”

DW: “So, can I call you again, tomorrow?”

JG: “Sure, I guess, so. If you feel like it.”

DW: “Great, talk to ya tomorrow.” Click.

Sports Reporter: “How are the negotiations going, Don?”

DW: “They’re still ongoing. The good news is, we haven’t reached an impasse yet. We talk almost daily.”

Sports Reporter: “Would you say ’substantial progress’ is being made?”

DW: “I don’t know how to define ’substantial progress.’”

Sports Reporter: “‘Substantial progress’ would be that you are just waiting for the league offices to review and approve the contract as being consistent with the policies of the current CBA.”

DW: “Well, I wouldn’t quite say we’re there, yet.”

Sports Reporter: “So, will it be Thai, Szechuan, Mexican, Italian, or are you going off the board with some Pakistani or Afghani restaurant for the next bill on your expense account?”

DW: “Actually, I was thinkin’ FRENCH this time. Maybe some “Duck a l’Orange,” or “Poulet, avec du riz et champignons,” and perhaps soufflet of some kind. I’m sure Jay would be up for that. He goes for most of my gastronomic suggestions. Just so you know, he likes FLAN for desert. Me? I go for the ‘pain au chocolat.’ It’s just scrumptious!”

Sports Reporter: “And the owners AGREE to pay you??, for this ‘work?’”

DW: “Yeah, my job is AWESOME! 1st class flight to NYC. Luxury hotel. 5-star French cuisine. Jay knows all the best places.”

Sports Reporter: “So, what happens when there’s NO DEAL at this end of this seemingly ENDLESS Parade of restaurants, in your QUEST to sample all the food New York has to offer?”

DW: “Then, it’ll be GOOD JUDGEMENT on our part not to commit 20% of our cap to one player. And any GM who DOES agree to a max contract for Kovalchuk will suffer the consequences. Clear enough for you?”

Sports Reporter: “Sure is! It’s a fantastic built-in excuse to blame PLAYER GREED, rather than GM ineptitude, as the reason the face of the franchise was lost.”

DW: “Shh. Whattaya tryin’ to do, EXPOSE me? I’ve got easily the most hoodwinkable ownership in the league. Maybe in all four pro sports. D’ya see that goalie coach get canned in Ottawa, last night? Poor guy. Maybe I can get him a job here? The dictionary in our office doesn’t have the word accountability in it. Ya know, I think I might just work well into my 70’s? Why not? Let the GOOD TIMES ROLLLLL, I always say. Now, if you’ll excuse me, Jay and I have a bottle of Dom Perignon to share! I’m really starting to like him.”

Brendan

January 14th, 2010
12:56 am

Darkhorse, maybe that’s (Waddell’s firing) what Kovy & Grossman have been waiting for, since 2007, all along?!! Imagine if Michael Gearon, Jr. interjected himself into this to say, “Look fellas. Waddell’s not returning after the Olympic break. We’re embarking on a campaign of accountability. I can’t give ya $11 million in this market. You know that as well as I do. But I can write it into the contract that we will be within $3 million of WHATEVER the cap limit is, every “Opening Night,” from now on, or you get to request a trade to any of handful of contending teams, of your choosing. I’ll give ya $8.5 million for the rest of your career, under these terms. Or I can go $9.0 million for each of the next 5 years. You have until March 1, 2010, to accept the deal, or you’ll be traded to Phoenix or L.A. and play the rest of the season there, with thanks for your service to the team and community.”

Yankee

January 14th, 2010
7:28 am

Chris – maybe you should tell Kovy how much this is frustrating us fans. We’ve been thru it too many times before and always on the losing end! We just don;t see how it is gonna be any different when it keeps dragging out.

kjdfg

January 14th, 2010
7:30 am

why would kovy be frustrated, in 6 mo he will be a new multi-millionaire playing for a contender

J.B.

January 14th, 2010
8:31 am

Toby – I thought I did know what he meant. But, i was curious to see how others interpreted it, hence my mention of the exchange here. I gave y’all my interpretation; obviously others perceived it differently. I’m not a reporter or a GM, so i didn’t feel the need to press him on it; frankly I was pleased I got a response at all.

The fact is it doesn’t matter what the response was because it won’t make a difference in the outcome. Grossman could be blowing smoke just for his own amusement by sending me a cryptic response.

And no, I don’t think he gave me ‘veiled’ information regarding the specific figure they are negotiating over. I simply threw that out there as a possible interpretation of the response as an analogy for discussion.

As far as the fans letting the Thrashers brass know how we feel about kovy and wanting him to re-sign, all i can say is: when has THAT ever worked???? c’mon! The FUASG is going to spend their money how they see fit, whether it’s smart or stupid (likely the latter if history is any indicator). I wish there were, but I just don’t believe there’s enough of us die-hard passionate fans to convince them to spend 1-2M more of their own money every year just because we assked them to, not with the cap in place, anyhow.

J.B.

January 14th, 2010
8:34 am

I think the thing about him wanting league max came from the russian media. i think it was a translation error when the sources in english read that it was possible for him to make ~11.5, not that that’s what he was asking for…but I could be wrong.

Mooseberg

January 14th, 2010
9:02 am

He may not be frustrated but we are…get it over with….P or get off the pot already.