Archive for February, 2010

Bergfors, Oduya will be here … later

Greetings from a darkened Verizon Center. As I wait for the morning skate I am told that Niclas Bergfors and Johnny Oduya will not make it here in time for the morning skate. They were delayed leaving. They are due to catch up with the team at the hotel and I’m told will be available tonight. I hope to know more later.

There is no decision yet where they will play – what line for Bergfors and what pairing for Oduya. Discussions have begun, but no decision made. Stay tuned on that.

I am trying to arrange to catch up with them either at the team hotel or before tonight’s game.

Let me get this posted and I’ll come back later to update.

There could be a guest appearance from one Mike Knobler – Georgetown law student – at this morning’s skate.

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Transcript from Waddell interview about Kovalchuk trade

This is quite lengthy, but I finally finished transcribing the entire interview with Don Waddell following the trade of Ilya Kovalchuk. I will post the whole thing.

If you didn’t see it, there is also a blog from my interview with Kovalchuk in the lobby of the team hotel as he was on his way to New Jersey. I posted that around midnight when I got back to my hotel.

I will report from the morning skate. We’ll see if Bergfors and Oduya arrive.

Here is the interview. I asked most of the questions, but some came from our local TV and radio folks and a Washington writer.

Q. Why New Jersey? Was that the best deal?

A. For sure. We did a lot of work these last couple of weeks talking to a lot of teams, exploring a lot of different possibilities. This fit everything we were looking for. We were looking for players to put on our NHL team as we speak. But we are also looking to add some assets into the basket. We think we did that very strongly. Patrice Cormier is a high-end junior …

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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 …

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Thrashers trade Ilya Kovalchuk to New Jersey

By Chris Vivlamore

WASHINGTON — That didn’t take long.
One day after informing Ilya Kovalchuk that he would be traded, the Thrashers on Thursday night sent its franchise player to New Jersey for two players, a prospect and a first-round draft pick.
The Thrashers swapped Kovalchuk and defenseman Anssi Salmela to the Devils for forward Nicklas Bergfors, defenseman Johnny Oduya, center Patrice Cormier and a first-round pick in this year’s draft. The teams also traded second-round picks this year.
Circle April 6th on your calendar. That’s when Kovalchuk returns to Philips Arena in his new uniform.
After months of negotiations on a long-term contract, Kovalchuk, the franchise’s all-time leader in every major offensive category, turned down the team’s final offer that was worth over $100 million. At that point, negotiations were terminated.

“At the end of the day, we felt we did everything in our power,” Thrashers general manager Don Waddell said in an impromptu press briefing in …

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Update: Kovalchuk at Thrashers practice

Your Thursday morning practice report.

Ilya Kovalchuk is on the ice despite being told yesterday that he will be traded. I will talk to him after practice and see what his thoughts are.

Kovalchuk is working on one end of the ice with Bryan Little and Nik Antropov, taking shots on the two goaltenders.

UPDATE: Here are some quotes from Kovalchuk, who spoke to the media for about 12 minutes.

“The rumors are flying all season long. What do you want me to do, sit at home and cry?”

“I asked [Waddell]  if I’m going to play [Friday] and he said yes. So I just show up and do my job.”

“It’s nobody’s fault. Everybody in the locker room can be traded. I’m in the same position as anybody. If they tell me I can be traded, that’s OK too. I just have to show up and play. I love my teammates. I’m one of them.”

“The rumors are getting louder and louder because the deadline is coming up. … It’s a distraction for everybody, but we have to show up and play through it and play our best.”

We have …

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Update II: Kovalchuk told he will be traded

Thrashers general manager Don Waddell has told star player Ilya Kovalchuk that he will be traded. Waddell did so after practice today. His agent was then informed of the pending move. No timetable was given for a move.

I talked to Ilya Kovalchuk and several players on whether his contract situation – and trade talk – are becoming a distraction. Everyone said it was not, for various reasons.

Here are Kovalchuk’s comments before being notified that he was to be traded:

“I’m the player and my job is to go on the ice and play hard. We are all professionals. I’ve worked here for eight years and hopefully I will stay but you know it’s a business and you never know what’s going to happen.”

Kovalchuk said at one point this season he address members of the team. “I talked to some guys. You don’t want to be a distraction. We are in a playoff race and we are only one point from the playoffs.”

When asked if he wanted the whole situation to be over, Kovalchuk said: “Whatever it takes. …

Continue reading Update II: Kovalchuk told he will be traded »

Kovalchuk trade talks heating up

Trade talks between the Thrashers and several teams involving star Ilya Kovalchuk have heated up in the last few days, according to two people familiar with the situation.

Thrashers general manager Don Waddell had no comment other than to say that the franchise and Kovalchuk’s agent have not had any new talks in more than a week. Both sides currently have proposals on the table that differ in salary and length of contract.

Kovalchuk, the franchise’s all-time leader in games, points, goals and assists, becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Waddell was in Philadelphia last week scouting the Flyers and Islanders. It also has been reported recently that the Kings and Bruins are interested in obtaining Kovalchuk.

Several NHL teams, including the Flames and the Rangers, have cleared salary cap space recently.

NHL rosters freeze on Feb. 14 for the two-week Olympic break. The trade deadline is three days after the freeze on March 3.

Waddell has previously stated that he will …

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Popovic finally gets back in lineup

Your report from the morning skate as the Thrashers prepare for big tilt tonight with Lightning.

We’ll start with the lineups. Once noticeable return, once noticeable absence.

Mark Popovic is in tonight after missing the past 27 games with a broken foot. He will skate in place of Anssi Salmela.

The other scratch is Slava Kozlov, for the fifth straight game. John Anderson was asked about it again this morning.

“Slava is having a tough year, certainly not the standards of last year. … He will be back in the lineup, it’s just a matter of when, getting the right game so he has the best advantage to come back and star for us.

“He’s been wonderful. He said whatever the coach wants to do, I’ll do. As a coach I really appreciate that.”

Ondrej Pavelec will start in goal, his first start in five games. He will be opposed by Antero Niittymaki, who is 15-0-0 career against the Thrashers. “I’m not playing against Niittymaki,” Pavelec said. “I’m playing against Tampa Bay.”

I asked Anderson …

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Kozlov not sure when he will return to lineup

Just back from practice and here’s our daily report.

All the players took part in practice. All the line combinations remained the same. Slava Kozlov, a scratch the past four games, skated with Eric Boulton-Marty Reasoner-Chris Thorburn. I asked Kozlov if he knew when he was going to get back in the lineup and he said he has not been told anything.

A couple of notes:

* Chicago Wolves goaltender Peter Mannino was named the AHL’s goaltender of the month for January. Mannino went 6-1-0 with a 1.28 goals-against average and a .958 save percentage.  He held opponents to two or fewer goals in all seven games,  including  his first shutout of the season on Jan. 29, with 32 saves against the Grand Rapids.

* Kari Lehtonen has appeared in three games in his conditioning stint at Chicago. He is 1-1-1 with a 2.96 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage. The Wolves don’t play again until Thursday.

* Coach John Anderson on the importance of Tuesday’s game against Tampa Bay: “It’s …

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