After speaking with Thrashers general manager Don Waddell for nearly a half hour about the trade of Ilya Kovalchuk, I rushed to write the first version of my news story. When I was finished I went to the lobby of the team hotel to meet Kovalchuk’s agent Jay Grossman. As I was about to leave, nearly the entire Thrashers team came through the lobby, returning from a farewell dinner. Including Kovalchuk. I asked for a few minutes with him. After going upstairs to collect his belongings, Kovalchuk returned. Here is the transcript from the quick interview before he left with Anssi Salmela and Grossman to join the Devils.
Q. What was your reaction to the trade?
A. [New Jersey] is a good team and it’s a great chance to play in the playoffs and go far in the playoffs. It’s sad at the same time because, now I can say it, I’ve been a Thrasher for eight years. I’m appreciative of everything, the organization and the fans.
We are going to play against each other on April 6. I’m already looking at the schedule.
Q. Now that it’s over, are you relieved?
A. We are all professionals, like I’ve said a lot of times. Things happen. Trades happen. Almost everybody gets traded. This is the first time in my career. My agent is from here, so that’s going to help. My family is going to be with me, so that’s going to help.
Q. How difficult was your last dinner with your teammates?
A. That’s always great when a lot of guys show up. It was very emotional. But what are you going to do? I wish them good luck and hope that they will do well.
Q. How do you think you will fit in in New Jersey?
A. I haven’t really thought about it. That’s reality. I’m going to meet Lou [Lamoriello] now and we’ll go from there.
Q. Can you talk about your eight years in Atlanta?
A. I was all a pleasure. I came there as a teenager and played there for eight years. It was a lot of fun, a lot of exciting [times]. We went to the playoffs once and it was great. I wish them the best. Hopefully we’ll see them in the first round [of the playoffs].
Q. Will you keep your home in Atlanta?
A. For sure. I’m not going to put my home up for sale. Atlanta is going to be my second home probably forever now. It’s great weather. My kids in school there. I will be there.
Q. How hard was it to have your name out there [in trade rumors]?
A. There were rumors all year long. I just tried to play. Now finally everything is done.”