Kovalchuk knows what’s coming against former team

Ilya Kovalchuk knows what’s coming tonight when he plays at Philips Arena – this time as a member of the Devils.

A youth hockey group sat in one of the upper sections of the rink while the Devils participated in their morning skate in preparation for tonight’s game against the Thrashers. Many of the kids booed every time he touched the puck.

“They are practicing for tonight,” said Kovalchuk, who expects to be booed by his former home crowd.

That’s fine with the former Thrashers No. 1 overall pick and captain. He plays for the Devils now and that means a trip to the playoffs. The Thrashers are hanging on for a chance to make the playoffs for only the second time in the 10-year franchise history.

“It nice,” Kovalchuk said of the upcoming playoffs. “That’s why we play hockey, to win. You don’t want to finish every year and go play in the World Championships. I won twice. Now I want to win something different.

“Every day I feel better and better [about being in New Jersey]. I know the guys better. I know the coaching staff better. The whole organization. I feel like I’ve been here forever because we’ve got an unbelievable group of guys here. Everybody helps me with everything so I feel very comfortable.”

I asked Kovalchuk the difference between the two organizations. He was candid in his remarks. He  referenced his comments following his trade when he said he was now playing for a “first-class organization.” Remarks the ruffled the feathers of some.

“There are a lot of different things,” Kovalchuk said. ” I can’t mention just one right now but it’s a little different organization. I know a lot of guys were [ticked] off when I said this was a first-class organization, but the difference between the two organizations – that’s winning. If you win on a consistent basis . … You don’t have to take it personally. You have to think about ourselves and make sure we do something better for the team next year.

“I didn’t mean anything personal. It’s just reality right now. [They Thrashers have] got so many young great players who can be really good, but you have to treat them right, train them right, teach them the game right and they are going to be successful. Like Pittsburgh, Chicago and Washington, they were last in the league and all of a sudden in a couple years they win the Cup or Presidents Trophy. That’s where they should look up to and try to do the same thing.”

Kovalchuk had dinner Monday night with his former Russian teammates, Slava Kozlov, Nik Antropov and Maxim Afinogenov. He did not spend the night in his Atlanta house, but rather stayed in the team hotel. He said his mother and plenty of friends will be at the game. He will also get a chance to join his wife and children, including his new born son, in Florida following the game.

Kovalchuk questioned why the Thrashers are not playing Kozlov.

“I don’t know what is going on,” Kovalchuk said. “I think a guy like Kozzy, they need him real bad right now with his experience. I think the guy has played over 100 playoff games. Some personal reasons don’t have to go against the team. Especially now with all those injuries and he’s still not playing. I don’t think it’s right to treat guys like that. They did it to [Alexei] Zhitnik first, now Kozzy. He’s just too professional. You can’t say any bad word against him. They just sit him down and all the guys are disappointed too.”

Kovalchuk has said he will not negotiate a new contract until after the playoffs. Still, a smile comes to his face every time the word is mentioned.

“I know what my future is,” Kovalchuk said. “I’m going to go in the playoffs. That’s my closest future. I’m not a guy who thinks a couple years ahead. I take it one day at a time.”

89 comments Add your comment

Lee

April 6th, 2010
8:02 pm

I love ya Kovy….but you’re my past…maybe other’s past too:

“What you need to know about the past is that no matter what has happened, it has all worked together to bring you to this very moment. And this is the moment you can choose to make everything new. Right now.”

“We cannot change our past. We can not change the fact that people act in a certain way. We can not change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.”

GO THRASHERS!

dj

April 6th, 2010
8:14 pm

You can talk about Kovy all you want but Hedberg has cost us 4 points.

stendek

April 6th, 2010
8:22 pm

Trashers look so cute in their pink uniforms! Completely gutless and heartless assembly of commode residue scumball quitters. Even Johan Moose Lethonen! The SOBs have yet to lay a glove or even a glancing body check on overrated Ilya Kovalchoke. They are a total disgrace. They are not men! Men take a little bit of pride in what they do! I pray that Hamilton takes these losers way north next season! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE! Tired of looking at their stinking uncaring butts. Oxygen wastes! Eery miserable one of them. Before you bother with any excuses apologists – SHOVE THEM! In no blasted mood to hear any of that bullshet now. Nauseating filth these Trashers be! ++ STENDEK++

Lee

April 6th, 2010
8:42 pm

Ha…nhl network thinks the Thrashers are trashers too. One of the headlines is: Devils @ Trashers.

stendek

April 6th, 2010
9:33 pm

Here are YOUR Atlanta Trashers (darn sure are not mine!): Heartless, gutless, spineless, talentless, prideless, dignityless, ball-less, clueless, soul-less, gritless, defenseless, offenseless and (feel free to insert less of choice). Totally embarrassing apathetic debacle at Loseland. Although the pink uniforms did look sharp! Suits these girly girls. Hope whole kit and kaboodle freezing their butts off in Hamilton next season. Even Johan Moose Lehtonen. Sorry guy. Trashers simply gave up after opening puck was dropped. Patrons should have received refunds. Hope scum never showed up! They can all go to Hamilton or Hades. All the same to me! ++STENDEK++

[...] New Jersey Devils at Atlanta Thrashers, 7 p.m. EST. If Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) is getting booed by youth hockey players during practice, it probably doesn’t bode all that well for the reaction to his first game in Atlanta as a [...]

Bruce

April 6th, 2010
9:54 pm

I really don’t want to hear the ATL Spirit group members or Don Waddell bragging on how tough the Thrashers played down the stretch when they start talking about next season (like they did this yr.). They STILL didn’t make the playoffs. When are we going to get owners and a GM that know what they are doing. This off season and the beginning of next season tout the team for what they are…..also rans.

Midfield

April 6th, 2010
9:58 pm

It’s been a fitting display. The loser organization ended up surrounded by loser fans. Kovy clearly passing up on some excellent looks was quite a humiliation in and of itself. Wow. Time to announce Waddel’s contract extention and cheer him and Levenson up at the next townhall meeting, real hockey fans!

Sage of Bluesland

April 6th, 2010
10:03 pm

“…Time to announce Waddel’s contract extention and cheer him and Levenson up at the next townhall meeting, real hockey fans!”

Indeed. The sheep are getting what they deserve. They really are. The fans would deserve better if they stopped subsidizing this incompetence…Otherwise, they are getting what they paid for.

I laugh at those who try to convince otherwise…

Tweedle Dum Waddell

April 6th, 2010
10:37 pm

HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! I made you all hate Marc Savard and Andrew Brunette when they walked for nothing in exchange! I made you hate Marian Hossa when he called my bluff and refused to re-sign with this crap of a franchise! And now, my greatest coup! You hate Kovalchuk because I let him call the shots in July and I let him sit around and watch as my AHL coach lost control of the room and I hung him out to dry with the fans until the bitter end instead of drawing a line at November 30th to trade him!!!!

Ahahahahahahaha! you people are soooooo stupid! Who should I let you boo next? Colby! and Pavel! YES! And don’t forget Slava! My trifecta for June!

Tweedle Dum Waddell

April 6th, 2010
10:41 pm

I’m the only constant in Atlanta for the last 11 years! These past captains have all badmouthed management as soon as they left:
Steve Staios, Ray Ferraro, Scott Mellanby, Bobby Holik, and now Ilya Kovalchuk! Yep, each one of these guys were flawed and horrible men when they were here! I’m the greatest GM that ever lived, just ask Atlanta Spirit!!!!

Andy

April 6th, 2010
10:50 pm

I was not at the game tonight becuase I won’t give another dime to the idiot Atlanta Spirit. Hearing that Kovy got booed shows that the fans are as dumb as DW and Levenson. Wake up people–we had a real star,a real talent and ownership could not or would not keep him. You idiots will keep buying tickets on promises that has been’s, never were and never will be’s will combine to make a winner. Dream on. And Don Waddell will be mistaken for Scotty Bowman. The NHL should strip this group of ownership.

Andy

April 6th, 2010
10:54 pm

Want change? Don’t buy tickets. Spirit doesn’t care what you say if your butt is filling a seat. What has supporting this team and paying DW’s salary gotten you for 10 years?

Wad

April 6th, 2010
10:55 pm

Hey guys, I just don’t understand why some of you are so jealous with Kovy or angry at him. Call him a “moron”? – He’s been the epitome and the face of your home team for some years. Thrashers are much indebted to him for their victories (albeit scarce and far between – but that’s not his fault). After all, he hasn’t let you down all those years. And he’s not the first to opt for a change – remember Heatley, Hossa etc., huh? – I guess they must be “morons” too, aren’t they?

B. Thenet

April 6th, 2010
10:58 pm

We are very good at not buying tickets….Guess what? The owners still do not care and still refuse to fire Waddell.

So what next? Lose our franchise because our owners are morons….to prove a point.

The season ticket pricing for next season says it all. Instead of attempting to improve the product, by firing the incompetent management….they just want to bribe us with really cheap tickets. So we have less to complain about when the team sucks next season.

Tweedle Dum Waddell

April 6th, 2010
11:04 pm

Please don’t boo me when I step on the ice to thank all the idiots, I mean fans for attending games this year! All 26 of them! In fact, come on to the game, we have 30 players on the roster and they will all give their jerseys off their backs….we want to get at least 30 fans there.

Wad

April 6th, 2010
11:09 pm

BTW, – some of you should learn from Montreal’s fans. – When Kovalev signed with Ottawa and came playing against his former team (he even scored a goal against Montreal), the Montreal fans greeted him with standing applause (in recognition of what he had done for the Habs). – Mature attitude, isn’t it

Sharon

April 6th, 2010
11:23 pm

Breaking News: The Thrashers have been eliminated from playoff contention.

Now back to bitching about how Kovalchuk broke up with you right before prom and asked for his class ring back.

Get a grip…

Brendan

April 6th, 2010
11:25 pm

Tonight, I cheered my lungs out for Kovy. While all the others booed. And there went the season.

Sage of Bluesland

April 6th, 2010
11:54 pm

“…What has supporting this team and paying DW’s salary gotten you for 10 years?…”

Winner-Winner-Chicken Dinner. Folks like Smoothie and his many lapdogs here are apparently happy…

Matt the Brave

April 6th, 2010
11:55 pm

Atlanta still has a hockey team? :P

thrashers out but Kovalchuk in playoffs

April 7th, 2010
7:39 am

Lets all give thanks to Don(teflon-coated) waddell for another 12 year program comin up…if u keep comin waddell will think he is scotty bowman.And believe u he not he the worst GM n detroit red wings are laughin at Us.Look for wholesale changes like raise n Ticket prices to pay for waddell pants! Look to Winnipeg in 2013 as the Jets will be re-born….Thank u waddell n atlanta owners for u Lies like those monkeys with see no evil speak no evil now!

TheAntiMe

April 7th, 2010
8:05 am

I would not be surprised if the Thrashers upper management were patting themselves on the back for coming close to making the playoffs this season. This organization has absolutely no sense of urgency to build anything more than a mediocre hockey team.

Joyaman

April 7th, 2010
8:46 am

No use beating a dead horse here. Anyone who has seen my posts for the last three years knows my position on the General Manager situation. To the extent that ASG even gives a flip about their “franchise on blocks” until they can find a buyer on AutoTrader.com, perhaps a new GM would be like a fresh paint job, or the smell of fresh bread baking for the prospective home buyers.

They can try to give away the remaining seats (that weren’t comped already this year) to try and cover up their abject failure and negligence as owners, but this situation has reached a new low. The patient is flatlining and the doctor is down the hall watching the Hawks on TV. The least they could do is to ask the NHL to do what the NFL did for the Giants when they helped a sorry franchise with a great upside select a new GM. I seem to remember some sort of turnaround after that happened.

Go Thrash!

Lee

April 7th, 2010
9:12 am

They should’ve ended the season early…back when we lost those 6 games in a row.

Jack

April 7th, 2010
9:32 am

I really believe this is a bad case of a broken record. For the exception of one year. The year always ends with missing the playoffs by approx 10 points, then emphasizing how bad ASG is and how Wadell needs to be fired. When will the(ownership or lack of) get a clue and make some changes.

Jack

April 7th, 2010
9:34 am

Secondly coaching change is not the answer. Yes JA may not be an all star coach but just getting rid of him is not the answer.

bugman

April 7th, 2010
10:39 am

stendek

April 7th, 2010
11:15 am

They should’ve ended the season early…back when (they) lost those 6 games in a row.

They did! ++STENDEK++ Actually it was before THAT losing streak!

PMC

April 7th, 2010
11:44 am

Now that Kovy is gone can we get Hartley back?

Please for the love of all that is good and holy… just turn the team over to Dudley already.

KLS1

April 7th, 2010
1:43 pm

Stop whining about people booing Kovy…this is our team and a little passion, even if it is negative is a good thing.

Kovy made a lot of money in this town, the Thrashers did more for him than he did for us…he wants $110M for one postseason appearance, get real. A season in which Hossa carried the team into the playoffs kicking and screaming while Kovy did his usual figure 8’s.

Its time to get tough Thrasher fans, I would boo Jesus Christ if he showed up in a NJ Devils uniform at Philips arena as we are on the doorstep of the playoffs.

Grow a pair instead of complaining and hiding in the bathroom when the welders from Buffalo start chanting for the Sabres.

Jack

April 7th, 2010
2:17 pm

KLS good point, I had no problem in booing him and I will boo him again. Of course he probably will go to KHL so I will not get that oppurtunity

David

April 7th, 2010
2:25 pm

Why would you NOT boo him? He doesn’t play for us. Boo the crap outta him! It’s a team sport and he’s not on your team.

Midfield

April 7th, 2010
3:09 pm

Hey, you can boo at his poster every day, if it helps. Whatevergetsyathroughthenight, eh?

Wadellblows

April 7th, 2010
4:14 pm

So let me get this straight– you “fans” hate on Kovy? He’s about the money? I guarantee he’ll end up with less per season than what the thrashers offered. Comments that he quit? really? how do you back that up? Heyward is the anti-kovy–after ONE game?!?! hey, mr. FAIRWEATHER fan! People are angry that Kovy says after TEN seasons this team has done NOTHING? Is he saying something you don’t believe?!?!? Hello, anyone home?!?!? Yeah, he’s a terrible guy for scoring more goals than ANYONE in the NHL during his time as a Thrasher & leaving BECAUSE HE ACTUALLY WANTS TO WIN. My favorite: the comment that he should’ve stuck it out for 2 more seasons– because clearly giving an organization 8 or 9 seasons to find any sort of direction is not enough. Booing Kovy is akin to endorsing Wadell.

MB

April 7th, 2010
7:15 pm

“Now back to bitching about how Kovalchuk broke up with you right before prom and asked for his class ring back.

Get a grip…”

Amen, Sharon!

Lee

April 8th, 2010
11:11 am

I remember last year I said “Ahh…at least there’s next year.” And I find myself saying that every year….

:(

G

April 20th, 2010
7:53 pm

Smoothie that is not true. He was offered 110 million dollars from Atlanta but turned it down. He left Atlanta because he was tired of not making the playoffs, and he’s given many years to the team so what more do you want?

RM

April 20th, 2010
8:01 pm

The people booing him are immature, even the Thrashers players said Ilya did not deserve to be booed. Why be so stupid toward a player that gave a lot of years to your team? And he has always been respectful to the fans and is NOT greedy…. he wants to play in the playoffs and have a chance at the Cup, just like any other hockey player. I’m in Illinois and the Blackhawks lost tons of players in the late 90s and early 00s, but I wished them well for several reasons. Blame your GM, not Kovalchuk.