Kovalchuk speaks

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.”

35 comments Add your comment

Stevo

February 5th, 2010
12:15 am

You didn’t ask him if it was still possible for him to return to the team as a FA? Certainly didn’t sound like it by the way he was talking.

Clint

February 5th, 2010
12:17 am

Gonna miss you Kovy. Wish the Thrashers could have built around you instead of always rebuilding. Oh well that’s it for me following hockey. This was the last straw.

thrashyou

February 5th, 2010
12:20 am

so sad….. dont know how/what to feel or think…….. hope waddell gets canned and dudley can try to resign him in the off season.

mutton

February 5th, 2010
12:22 am

Hopefully our fans will show some class and won’t boo his ass when he comes back into town.

KovyPleaseStay

February 5th, 2010
12:26 am

Guess I need a new screen name.

Anyway, thanks for the interview, Chris. Nice to hear from him tonight.

P3Thrash

February 5th, 2010
12:36 am

Best of wishes Kovy, you will be missed as all of the cranky comments will enumerate. It seems like the best for both if the Thrash couldn’t meet your needs at this point in time. Hopefully you will give the Thrash an even chance in your UFA.

Somaatl95

February 5th, 2010
12:52 am

Saturday night “Lets Go Thrashers!” Clap, Clap, clapclapclap “Fire Wad-Dell!” Clap, Clap, clapclapclap “Screw the Spirit” Clap,Clap, clapclapclap.”Lets Go Thrashers!” Clap, Clap, clapclapclap “Fire Wad-Dell!” Clap, Clap, clapclapclap “Screw the Spirit” Clap,Clap, clapclapclap.”Lets Go Thrashers!” Clap, Clap, clapclapclap “Fire Wad-Dell!” Clap, Clap, clapclapclap “Screw the Spirit” Clap,Clap, clapclapclap.”Lets Go Thrashers!” Clap, Clap, clapclapclap “Fire Wad-Dell!” Clap, Clap, clapclapclap “Screw the Spirit” Clap,Clap, clapclapclap.”Lets Go Thrashers!” Clap, Clap, clapclapclap “Fire Wad-Dell!” Clap, Clap, clapclapclap “Screw the Spirit” Clap,Clap, clapclapclap.”Lets Go Thrashers!” Clap, Clap, clapclapclap “Fire Wad-Dell!” Clap, Clap, clapclapclap “Screw the Spirit” Clap,Clap, clapclapclap.”Lets Go Thrashers!” Clap, Clap, clapclapclap “Fire Wad-Dell!” Clap, Clap, clapclapclap “Screw the Spirit” Clap,Clap, clapclapclap.”Lets Go Thrashers!” Clap, Clap, clapclapclap “Fire Wad-Dell!” Clap, Clap, clapclapclap “Screw the Spirit” Clap,Clap, clapclapclap.

Brendan

February 5th, 2010
1:00 am

Kovy plans to live here. That’s what he said. He’s going to raise his family here. But, he doesn’t want to play hockey here. Even though … he was offered over $100 million to play for a team … in the SAME CITY … which he lives.

Hmmn. What could CAUSE that to happen? Maybe, it’s because the Atlanta Thrashers are an inept organization. Ya think???

GSUFan

February 5th, 2010
1:03 am

He lied to the management, and he lied to the fans. STOP KIDDING YOURSELF. He was in it for the money, not for the glory. He wants to go somewhere where he will get paid more money than he deserves.

You people who are blaming management are moronic. IT’S A COVER-UP OBVIOUSLY. Kovalchuk is a liar. He lied to you, if you’re looking for a cover-up, look no further than your former Thrasher.

Kovalchuk spoke about wanting to be the Captain for all the young players that didn’t have a steady captain. He lied. He took the Captain position, and left the young players for self-interest. He spoke about wanting a team built around him. He wanted Kubina, he wanted Antropov, and the management got them. He was pleased. He said he would love to stay in Atlanta if the money was right. If the deal was right. In the end, Kovalchuk was in it for himself. This is a business. He wants the money he thinks he deserves, and he’ll get the money — In Russia.

Look at the facts. Look at who is really responsible. Have the Spirit and DW done everything right? In this situation, yes, I feel like they did. Get over your blind hate for the Atlanta Spirit and Don Waddell, open your eyes and see who is really at fault here.

No wonder Thrashers fans have been called the worst in the NHL. You people are the biggest bunch of whiners and negative Nancy that ever existed.

Tim

February 5th, 2010
1:24 am

Kovy Lovers

Why are you going to miss him so much?

What did he give you other than a bunch highlight reel moments followed by even more pull-your-hair-out moments?

How many times in 8 years did you leave Blueland thinking that Kovy left his heart on the ice?

How many times is Evander Kane’s short career have you left the building thinking that about him?

Do those answers satisfy you?

Which player plays a brand of hockey suitable to consistent winning?

Which player will make those around him better?

Which player will be a better leader?

Which player will take up more cap space?

Sadtoseeitthisway

February 5th, 2010
2:09 am

Good work, Chris, getting the story when you did. Of course the parties involved are talking out the side of their mouth. We`ll find out in due time where his real reasons, (or monetary desires are). Hard to say all the right things at a time like this. Plus, he should get some quality time in the playoffs. Also, NJDevil players are expected to help out on defense. Let`s see what he`s got left after the Olympics, and the Devils need him to step up for the rest of the season. Kovy, we`re watching.

Barry

February 5th, 2010
2:20 am

Ya I’m sure Kovy is excited to play for a real cup contender but also feel sorry for the Devils players we got. I mean they got to be thinking life is good, fighting for top spot in the conference, going to the playoffs then BAM thinking “we are going to Atlanta? The Thrashers? A team that is not even in the playoffs and not good enough by the looks of it to make the playoffs?”

I wish the best to Kovy as he’s my favorite player. I think this honestly thought is more Jay Grossman than Kovy. Kovy doesn’t seem like the kind of guy that would be two faced to tell us one thing and do something else. It became clear Grossman wanted max dollar allowable and no team is paying that. Part of wonders doesn’t Kovy have a little bit of say so? I mean isn’t Grossman working for Kovy in some way? At some point you would think Kovy would put his foot down and say “hey I want to keep playing in Atlanta, be willing to accept the best reasonable offer and let’s get this done”.

Alan R.

February 5th, 2010
3:02 am

I’m interested in what Oduya and Bergfors have to say, and whether or not they’ll be in the lineup tomorrow. I would hope they are, but I guess we’ll see.

Yep

February 5th, 2010
6:40 am

“This isn’t a knock on Waddell, but Don’s been here all those years and we still haven’t won a playoff game,” the fans said. “This team has to take a different identity.”

squawksmcgrew

February 5th, 2010
6:58 am

Be interesting to see how Kovy fares in a system that requires DEFENSIVE responsibility. And in a market that will call him out for it nightly. But he’s in a much better organization now and finds it worth the effort to play defense.

Lee

February 5th, 2010
7:09 am

j nes

February 5th, 2010
7:29 am

After reading the names of players rumored to come to Atlanta via trade yesterday I have to say I am extremely disappointed (although not surprised) at what Waddell was (un)able to procure for the second best goal scorer in the league.

Don Waddell is proof that nice guys finish last–watch the standings and see.

j nes

February 5th, 2010
7:32 am

Wait. I just realized I have no reason to be upset. John Anderson has already proven he can win a championship with an AHL roster! We are in luck!

Midfield

February 5th, 2010
8:00 am

Yep, you got this exactly right. The audacity of Waddell’s interview is as mind boggling as the length of his tenure. Apparently, it’s all Kovy’s fault that the team sucks. Waddell has nothing to do with it. What a joke of a man.

SA

February 5th, 2010
9:10 am

Barry, how sorry can you feel for someone who is blessed to play hockey for a job while bringing in an income that most of us only dream about. Please, these guys don’t deserve anyone’s pity.

Thrash Fan

February 5th, 2010
9:14 am

DW did not say it was Kovy’s fault. He said we were building a team around one player (and his huge salary). DW is very fond of Kovalchuk. He did nothing but compliment him and wish him the best. Whatever you think of DW, he did the best he could in this situation. Kovy left the team for his own reasons.

SEA

February 5th, 2010
9:16 am

GSUfan, I am sure Kovy is a good man and father, but you hit the nail on the head. He pullled a Hossa in the end.

Bob

February 5th, 2010
9:19 am

this was not about money, $100m if more than enough, this is about Kovy not wanting to play in Atlanta anymore. And that is an indictment of Waddell and the Spirit.

Yep

February 5th, 2010
9:20 am

Thrash Fan:

Didn’t Waddell say that Kovy was here all those years and we still haven’t won a playoff game – Time to try something else?

The same can be said about himself!

Thrash Fan

February 5th, 2010
9:46 am

Yep, couldn’t agree more with you. I also think the point he was making was we only have so much money to spread around. That didn’t work, let’s try something new. Just sayin. . . Not arguing.

GSUFan

February 5th, 2010
9:56 am

SEA,

He could be a good person in his personal life, but in the business world (and yes, hockey IS A BUSINESS people!) he’s a jerk.

I can’t say he pulled a Hossa though. Marian Hossa told management what he wanted and they didn’t do anything to faciliate him, so he left. Fair enough, he was upfront with what he wanted. DW even said this is what Hossa wanted, and when he stopped talking, we should have traded him.

In this case, Ilya Kovalchuk lead the management on. He kept talking and kept turning things down. If he wasn’t getting what he wanted, he could have shut them down in October. If he wanted out, he could have left in July. We probably would have gotten a better deal if he had said “I don’t want to play here.”

Hossa said that. Hossa was a man about it, Hossa knew this was a business and treated it that way.

The point is that fans need to stop drinking the kool-aid and take off the Kovy blinders. Players come and go. If you’re a fan of the player, be a fan of the player. But if you claim to be a Thrashers Fan, you need to stick with the team. This team is more than Ilya Kovalchuk. The world didn’t end when Heatley left, when Savard left, when The Hoss left and it most certainly will not end because Ilya Kovalchuk left.

I realize that positivism is something that is very hard to come by nowadays, but compare this team to other teams that are in the hunt, and yes, we are still in the hunt.

Who are the big names for the Panthers? The Habs? We’re 3 points out, that is NOTHING! What about Phoenix in thw West? The idea of a team in hockey where there is a cap, is to build a team. Not build the team around one player, especially if that player is greedy like Kovalchuk. Even Alex Ovechkin can take a hometown discount, and stay with a team he knows he can make better. That is the difference between a “star” like Kovalchuk and a “superstar” like Ovie.

But I am done now. I have many more important things to worry about in my life other than Ilya Kovalchuk — I can assure you, that he is not worrying about me, or any of the fans in Atlanta. I’m sure he doesn’t care one bit what we think of him.

kracker

February 5th, 2010
10:27 am

Ilya was offered a variety of handsome packages to continue as a Thrasher. He is already rich and would have remained so had he accepted one of the offers. He simply wants to play elsewhere. Fair enough, he’s been here eight years and if he wants to go, he did the right thing for himself.

The $10M offer was too high for this team, that would be more than 20% of team payroll, too much for one player. The $8.5M offer was all the Spirit Group could realistically do and still try to field a competitive team.

My complaint is that Kovalchuk should have made his inflexible demands clear much earlier so that he would have been traded in December for a much better return for the Thrashers.

Well, it’s done. There is a game tonight. GO THRASH!!

[...] -Kovalchuk said he will maintain his home in Atlanta. [...]

PeteyNice

February 5th, 2010
11:02 am

Someone said…

The $10M offer was too high for this team, that would be more than 20% of team payroll, too much for one player. The $8.5M offer was all the Spirit Group could realistically do and still try to field a competitive team.

You are kidding right? $1.5M is the difference between Colby Armstrong or Todd White and some AHL call up. Not having one of those guys does not transform your team from competitive to not competitive.

GSUFan

February 5th, 2010
11:20 am

PeteyNice,

I don’t think the “young players” DW is talking about are Todd White and Colby Armstrong. I feel like perhaps young would be defined as Bryan Little, Zach Bogosian, and oh yeah, that Evander Kane kid. Players like that transform your team. And I would rather have those players and just maybe, build a team for them and for the young talent rather than build a team around a big, selfish Russian crybaby.

Sage of Bluesland

February 5th, 2010
12:04 pm

Really laughing at those who are delusional enough to believe it was “all about money”!

You must be related to that bumbling, lisping little fraud of a GM we have been cursed with for over a decade now?

It was all about WINNING.

(silly sheep aren’t too sharp now, are they?)

Midfield

February 5th, 2010
12:51 pm

Waddell seems to have caught on the ’spreading the wealth’ philosophy. He does not mind to overpay for loosers like Hainsey, but he needs to save on players like Kovalchuk to retain the young players. And no, he did not blame Kovalchuk for not winning a single playoff game. He just sited it as the reason for the trade. But this is not the trade, this is a salary dump. The team is effectively let down the drain for the rest of the season – and beyond. Those of you who are big on charity, keep sending your change to ASG suites and their bag man who – and I know this from many accounts – draws no respect from players or any other people who happened to be stuck in this joke of a franchise.

NASCAR Dave

February 5th, 2010
3:07 pm

FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!!
FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!!
FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!!
FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!!
FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!!
FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!!
FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!! FIRE WADDELL!!!

Hotrod

February 5th, 2010
4:15 pm

Glad to hear Kovy will keep his house in Atl.
Always great to have a future hockey hall of famer
a resident.

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February 6th, 2010
1:53 am

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