Is the Kovalchuk era in Thrasherville nearing an end?

As recently as New Years Eve, I held to the proposition that there was a better than even chance that Ilya Kovalchuk would re-sign with the Atlanta Thrashers…the only NHL team he has ever played for.

But as I also told a handful of close friends around that time, if a deal had not been announced by the team’s annual Casino Night, then chances are he’ll be pulling on the sweater of a different team in the league before he dons the one for his native Russia in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Could Thrashers captain Ilya Kovalchuk be saluting Thrasherville good-bye in the coming days?

Could Thrashers captain Ilya Kovalchuk be saluting Thrasherville good-bye in the coming days? (AP Photo)

Casino Night came and went this past Sunday and, of course, there was no surprise announcement similar to last year’s when Kovy was given the “C” to wear on his jersey.

Then Monday morning, Don Waddell told our own Chris Vivlamore, “Our first priority still remains to sign him…that’s clear. I probably didn’t leave the door open enough at the beginning of the year because, obviously, I was hoping that this would be long done by now. We also have to protect the asset. He’s an asset to our franchise. …

“[A trade] still looms as an option, but it’s not my first choice.”

Uh-huh…why do I picture Michael Corleone kissing his brother Fredo in Havana when I read this?

And so, while I was very optimistic that Kovy would sign a contract to remain in Atlanta up to recently, the fact is that since we are at this point of the season and no deal is yet done…it’s easy to see why many feel he’s already got one skate out the door.

Now, the NHL trade deadline this season is 3:00 pm eastern time on Wednesday March 3, which is one day after the Thrashers play their first game after the Olympic break…a home match against the Florida Panthers. However, as I stated earlier, if a trade will be made…chances are good it will be done prior to that date. Actually, I think a lot of deals will be done before the scheduled 2-week break in mid-February given the fact that general managers and owners would rather not risk having players who may be on the trade block injured during the Winter Games while still on their payroll.

Which will be the last home game that Kovy will be a Thrasher

  • 1/12 vs. OTT (3%, 6 Votes)
  • 1/14 vs. BUF (3%, 5 Votes)
  • 1/19 vs. TOR (3%, 6 Votes)
  • 1/21 vs. CAR (7%, 13 Votes)
  • 1/26 vs. ANA (13%, 23 Votes)
  • 2/2 vs. TB (12%, 21 Votes)
  • 2/6 vs. FLA (19%, 34 Votes)
  • 3/2 vs. FLA (6%, 10 Votes)
  • None, he'll re-sign with ATL (16%, 28 Votes)
  • He'll be "loaned" via trade, then re-sign with ATL (18%, 34 Votes)

Total Voters: 180

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Given that, if Don Waddell is in fact unable to accomplish his mission to re-sign Kovy, that means there are seven home games left in which Thrashers fans will be able to enjoy seeing the Russian sniper play in Thrasher blue. Even if the matter does play out until the day of NHL Trade-Deadline-A-Palooza 2010, that would still be just eight games including the March 2 contest against the Panthers.

Thus, the new Fan Poll to the side of this entry is asking for your prediction of what home game will be his last. If you feel he will indeed sign here in the coming weeks, you can vote that way as well.

But moreover, I also want to know what you feel will be an adequate return for the NHL’s first overall draft pick in 2001? Teams that I’ve heard which have expressed an interest in his services include Philadelphia, Chicago and LA…though certainly others will give Waddell a phone call or two in the coming days.

Are you simply looking to replace Kovalchuk’s goals? Are you looking to add defensive help…even if that’s a winger that can back-check like a madman? Are you looking for a combination of a couple solid goal-scorers plus some prospects/high draft picks?

Painting with a rather broad brush here, I only hope that Don Waddell can actually bring a maximum return for Kovalchuk…yeah, yeah, I know, I know. This team needs players that can help right now and we simply cannot be sitting here in two years waiting for certain players obtained via any possible trade to “develop” in order to determine whether or not the transaction was beneficial to the Thrashers.

You know, kinda like we are two years after the last time Waddell was forced to trade away a star player because he was unable to convince him to re-sign with the Thrashers.

118 comments Add your comment

R. Stroz

January 11th, 2010
8:53 pm

FIRE WADDELL

R. Stroz

January 11th, 2010
9:04 pm

If the Thrashers can’t afford Kovy next season, I can’t afford to buy tickets.

If the Kovy contract details ever go public and the ASG wasn’t willing to pay Kovy 9 million per year, I’ll sit on my wallet again.

Slappy McPantsoff

January 11th, 2010
9:17 pm

Honestly, I never thought Kovy would sign here. I still don’t. The franchise is in shambles, and everyone around it (including some fans) lack any sense of reality.

How many people thought he would re-sign because he “liked Atlanta?”

Two words: Get Real.

He’s a top athlete in this league. And that means, deep down, he wants to win. He wants that more than he “likes Atlanta.”

Think of it this way: if you were in his shoes (skates), what would you do? Seriously. Sign here for more of the same? If you really, really believe that, then there’s some beautiful Montana beachfront property for you somewhere.

Unfortunately, given the GM of this team, I don’t expect that we’ll get much in return. What’s a fair trade versus what’s a likely trade are two completely separate issues. Knowing that IK isn’t coming back, knowing that Atlanta’s desperate, and knowing the negotiating “skillz” of our GM (which are probably on a par with his bowstaff skillz and nunchuk skillz), the other GMs are gonna offer a lot less than what IK may be worth. Because they can.

The best situation might be two other teams getting into a bidding war over Kovy. That way, Donnie can come out ahead without even really trying. Which is probably the only way he’ll come out ahead.

Unfortunately, until there is a cleaning of house from top to bottom, this franchise is doomed to reside in chateau cellar. Now whether that cellar may be in Atlanta, or Hamilton, or Kansas City… that’s another question altogether.

Smoothie

January 11th, 2010
9:27 pm

Yes, the Kovy era is drawing to a close. Sad, but not the end of the world.

Fair value? Probably too late for that. Waddell should have drawn the line in the sand so much sooner it’s not even funny. Why there wasn’t some hard bargaining and negotiating in October, or mid-November at the latest, I have no idea. DWad gambled on Kovy’s sincerity and lost. It’s still a business and Donnie keeps getting burned.

At least I’ll have seats on the glass for his last game in Atlanta on 1/26 vs the Ducks. I’ll try not to flip him off like I did Avery. I’ll reserve that for ol’ Donnie Fraudell.

World Be Free

January 11th, 2010
9:36 pm

Is the Kovy Era over? Does Charlie Daniels play a mean fiddle? Did Mark McGwire really take steroids?

I can’t believe it-I taped Hot Stove on HNIC Saturday and just watched Mike Milbury say the same thing I have been saying all along. ” What’s taking so long? And the dance goes on”. Fair value will be draft picks, a prospect and guys that will never come close to being what Kovy is today and will be for the next 5 seasons.

Finally- Don Cherry’s a blow hard-your boys lost Don. Get over it!

Pucky Puckmeister

January 11th, 2010
10:12 pm

Trade Kovy’s slacker behind.

As a Thrashers season ticket holder, I am BEYOND sick of subsidizing self-centered, me-before-team European players who don’t truly want to be here, give a solid effort EVERY night and be an integral part of a competitive team.

Good Riddance, Kovy, you I’m-Too-Good-to-Half-Heartedly-Wave-My-Stick-at-a-Puck-to-Even-TryKeep-It-in-the-Offensive-Zone-on-a-Power-Play Tool!.

By the way, Burn in Hell Hossa, & take # 17 & the Atlanta Spirit ownership group with you.

Pucky Puckmeister

January 11th, 2010
10:17 pm

Oops!

CORRECTIONS:

Kovalchuk = I’m-Too-Good-to-Half-Heartedly-Wave-My-Stick-at-a-Puck-to-Even-Try-TO-Keep-It-in-the-Offensive-Zone-on-a-Power-Play Tool

Addressing Marian Hossa: “By the way, Burn in Hell, Hossa, & take # 17 & the Atlanta Spirit ownership group with you.”

Upgrade for 2010-11: Make Evander Kane next season’s Captain. He may be too young and inexperienced, but at least he shows some consistent jump and at least ACTS like he cares.

R. Stroz

January 11th, 2010
10:28 pm

The Thrashers schedule was constructed with the preponderance of the home games back loaded for a playoff run. PLAYOFFS? PLAYOFFS?

Without Kovy, I wonder what the attendence for all of those March home games will be like. My guess, putrid.

While Kovy was deciding if he believed in the future of the Thrashers during October and November, dumb Donny should have been getting an idea for the terms of the contract. But just like dumb Donny has always done in the past, dumb Donny procrastinated and we see how that has worked out again.

If you read Waddell speak, he’s saying Kovy’s asking price is too high. Haven’t we heard this before, say with Savard, Brunette, etc.

Brendan…..fill in some more players for me.

Anyway, the point is simple. Dumb Donny doesn’t know how to value players, never has, never will; and, as a result, the Thrashers just keep losing good players, year after year.

Donny is always rebuilding, always looking to the future…and the fans just keep getting screwed as do the owners with a franchise that is decreasing in value.

I’m looking forward to the future as well. The day that one of the ASG “businessmen” realizes dumb Donny is costing them millions in the value of the franchise; and, as a result, fires dumb Donny. Then, and only then, will the Thrashers have a future.

Do any of the ASG “businessmen” realize that the only reason dumb Donny keeps looking to the future is so he can sucker them out of a few more years of salary before he goes back to selling port-a-potties.

Brendan

January 11th, 2010
10:55 pm

WBF, I definitely do recall you URGING, passionately, to have a deal done over the offseason for Kovalchuk. I cited a date of July 14, 2009, or you must trade him. But I softened from that stance, thinking … well, “what if” it really does come together, at long last, for this team. And there really is a playoff berth, and they do well. And all the rest of what is generally encompassed in the box of “wishful thinking.”

I understand that Don didn’t want to play HARDBALL with him. I understand that OWNERSHIP might well have told Waddell, “You may NOT trade him this season. Period, the end.” And well, if you’re Don Waddell, a GM fortunate to have a job, you do what you’re told–to keep your job. The “silver lining,” for ownership, are the ticket revenues that you PAID to SEE KOVY … that you may not have otherwise shelled out.

Again, that bit of hypothetical speaks to the follies of ownership. For as much flack as John Kincade gets on 680TheFan, he did post an article at their website TWO YEARS AGO in the 2008 offseason urging the Thrashers to trade Kovalchuk for a true King’s ransom, while they still could. We didn’t like hearing that. That was blasphemy to our ears.

I’ll tell you why I didn’t like that idea. Simply put, I didn’t want any players who DIDN’T WANT to be here. You get players WHO DON’T WANT TO BE HERE precisely by trading for them. They always WALK, as soon as they can, unless they can FORCE a trade out, first. And yes, Hossa falls into that category, too. The second reason, and this speaks more to the current blog topic, is that you just can’t replace a Kovalchuk. Kovalchuks, like Hossas and Savards, don’t grow on trees. They’re special. You cannot get equal value in a trade. When you trade a Hossa or a Kovalchuk, it’s like getting a “D” on your report card. It’s an admission of failure, in the core area of “player retention.” And it’s gonna sting for a while, until you straighten up and fly right. You do that … by holding people accountable for performance results.

And come to think of it, our team logo is a bird. It’s supposed to straighten up and fly right. Instead, it just seems to fly south. Until it crash lands inside the lottery draft. Again.

The poll choice I looked for, but couldn’t find, was that the Thrashers keep Kovalchuk all year, and trade him at the draft. Why would the Thrashers do something so utterly stupid? Well, what do they do that fills you with confidence? Don’t answer. You have to remember something. These owners are businessmen. And they THINK … that you’ll turn out for Thrasher games … so long as Kovalchuk is in the lineups. With that “concept” in mind, they’d kept #17 all the way until Game 82. To serve their own financial interests, as well as “punishing Kovalchuk” for making them look stupid all year. Truthfully, they don’t need Kovalchuk, or anyone else, to make them look stupid. They handle that part pretty well all by themselves.

Now, I hear ya. “What’s the return POSSIBLY gonna be at the 2010 draft?” Well, if Kovy wants to go to a team with cap trouble, they’ll have to shed payroll SOMEHOW to accommodate his wildly ridiculous salary. Well, they would. “Kovy’s probably not going to Detroit, but if he did, there’s no way the Red Wings could sign him without giving multiple players back to us, just for salary relief.” So, maybe, we should hope that Detroit DOES want Kovalchuk! And that Kovy DOES WANT Detroit. For we’d get some decent players back. Especially if it’s true that the cap is shrinking next year. Technically, the cap would be shrinking if the cap REMAINED THE SAME, for the value of money is decreased over time. $56.8 million is LESS money this year than it was LAST year. Inflation makes that identical figure less valuable.

Now, Los Angeles has cap room. And, probably, they’ve had it earmarked for Kovalchuk for a while now. Filed under, “wishful thinking.” The Kings do have a solid core nucleus of players now. And even though I think they’re approaching Stanley Cup contendership within the next 3-5 years, it’s up to KOVY to believe that, in terms of a longterm contract. Personally, I can see the Kings going after Kovy strictly as a “rental.” They have players, prospects, and draft picks to give away to make that happen. If the Kings actually make the playoffs and win a round or two, who knows? Maybe Kovy would re-sign there. Hope he likes California state income taxes!! Not to mention property taxes. And sales taxes. And the not wearing puffy pants taxes. And the breathing the air & walking down the street taxes, too.

Somaatl95

January 11th, 2010
10:57 pm

Losing Kovy is a great way for for the ASG to completely decimate the fan base. A lot of people say “Sure, trade him” but there are other people here (like myself) that would like him to stick around. Damnit Don, get you teflon a$$ upstairs to those idiots you work for and GET THE JOB DONE. You screw us fans over one more time then have the decency to turn in your walking papers as well. Show all of these people who have suffered that you have integrity enough to know that you can only poop on a plate so many times and expect the fans who PAY YOUR SALARY to eat it. If we are forced through another “rebuilding”, it better start at the top. Do you fellas in the ASG have your heads dislodged from your rectums enough to hear the fans? SHOW IT THEN. MAN UP. Stop leading us through hell with an AHL team and give us a reason to cheer.

Brendan

January 11th, 2010
11:19 pm

Trixie, please free my post from roughly 11:15PM.

But I’ll cover what I can for R.Stroz. Strozie, I’ve said before, I’ll say it again. Unless Michael Gearon, Jr. and Bruce Levenson have an epiphany, to realize that THEY, THEMSELVES, need to meet with Kovalchuk or Kovalchuk’s agent, (if Kovy REFUSES to meet with them personally,) then this matter will likely be resolved unsuccessfully, in terms of “player retention.”

I heard someone scream, “Can’t Dudley take over from here?” Shrugs. I don’t know what to say. Look at the hand that Dudley’s been dealt, if that’s the case. Dudley probably would have forced a trade at last year’s Draft, if Kovalchuk refused to re-sign on July 1, 2009. And the way to discover if he would or wouldn’t, is to ask him. Novel idea, huh? And if Kovy says, “I’ll give you an answer on July 1st,” the response back is, “If you cannot tell us NOW, on June 25th, if you’re willing to re-sign on July 1st, we’re trading you at the draft.” Phoenix picked 6th overall in last year’s draft. L.A. went 5th, taking Brayden Schenn. Wonder if they would have coughed that up for a year of Kovalchuk? While I think that’s stupid on their part, you don’t know until you ask. The Islanders are stupid. No question of that. But not even they would have passed on Tavares for a year of Kovalchuk on Long Island. But maybe, they give up some prospects, their 2nd rounder, a 3rd rounder, etc., that they’d acquired from other teams.

All I know for certain is this. When you trade away a Kovalchuk, you never get “equal value” back. For Kovalchuks don’t grow on trees. I have trees all over my yard. None of them have ever sprouted a Kovalchuk. I’ll keep planting, in hopes that one will.

Brendan

January 11th, 2010
11:30 pm

Somaatl95, would you “walk away” from an $800,000-a-year job, simply because you’re bad at it? Or, would you thank your “lucky stars above” that your bosses don’t notice and keep paying you? Answer truthfully. In Waddell’s shoes, I’d fight for every last paycheck, scrounging for each and every nickel.

Russian

January 11th, 2010
11:34 pm

I could not choose two options, but I think he will stay here. First option he will sing contract with Atlanta. Second option he will be a rent player and come back to Atlanta after PO.
Someone said ” if you were in his shoes (skates), what would you do?” It was a Slappy McPantsoff. GREAT Question.
Kovy is a great, talented player. He can get contract with other teams. But How much he can get? $8-9 mln? How many teams have money like that? AND How many teams with MONEY will be in PO? Chickago- No Money
Boston – No money
LA – Yes Money, but PO is very Big question
Philly – No money and same is LA – PO is Big question.
Washington – No money
Pittsburg -No Money
Sharks – No money
I did not see a good team to get him to sign to next saeson.
I am coming to my point. He is a player, but he is a Father of two kids, plus 3-d is coming. He is thinking about family future. One thing is A Stanley Cup. Can He win here? I do not think so. Second is a Family and Stability. He knows that Atlanta will pay him a $9-10 mln year for 10-12 years. He knows if he could not play well the Atlanta may buy him out. But he still will get money. My point is he will choose a Stable and Secure Life here.

ESPN Hater

January 11th, 2010
11:36 pm

ESPN.com is now reporting a that the Kings, per rumor, now have an offer on the table to the Thrashers for Kovalchuk.

Brendan

January 12th, 2010
12:14 am

R.Stroz, this list is hardly complete. But here goes. Steve Staios wanted a 10% raise on his then essentially league minimum pay. “Nope, too much. Go to Edmonton.” Don Audette was making $2.3 million and asked for a “market value” contract. At the time, he was something close to the ONLY Thrasher worth his paycheck. I’ll listen an argument for Ray Ferraro being worth the money. Andrew Brunette didn’t try to hold the franchise hostage, he just wanted out. And at the price he was asking, Time-Warner was all too pleased to let him go. Peter Buzek, the team’s 1st all-star, flatout stopping showing up. He walked off the team, in disgust. Eventually, Buzek finagled a trade. I believe there still is a direct lineage that leads to Anssi Salmela on that trade. I think, but don’t quote me, that it involved a trade to Calgary for Jeff Cowan and the rights to Kurtis Foster. Foster was then traded to Anaheim for Niclas Havelid at the 2004 Entry Draft. And last year, Havelid was moved to the New Jersey Devils, at the trade deadline, for Anssi Salmela, who re-inked an RFA contract with Atlanta during the offseason. I forgot whatever happened to Jeff Cowan. I remember him being in Vancouver for a time. Not sure where he is now. I want to say that Atlanta traded Cowan for Kip Brennan. Don’t know where Brennan is today. But I think Atlanta traded Brennan for Mark Popovic. That sounds right, but I’m not sure anymore. I suppose, if it ISSS right, then Peter Buzek traces his lineage to BOTH Mark Popovic, through Jeff Cowan, and to Anssi Salmela, through Kurtis Foster and Nic Havelid.

But I digress. Frank Kaberle was lost to free agency. Wound up scoring the Cup clinching goal for the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006. Nice, huh? Pascal Rheaume, far from a star, was traded to New Jersey for the dreaded “future considerations.” Rheaume wound up getting a Cup ring with the Devils in 2003. By the way, Waddell, for mysterious reasons, gave the “future considerations” back to Lou Lamoriello. No explanations. Nothing. Handed ‘em right back. I’ve never quite seen anything like it. Moving right along, Jiri Slegr was traded to Detroit at the 2002 Entry Draft, where he’d win a Stanley Cup ring with the Red Wings. What’d Atlanta get? Remember Yuri Butsayev?? Yeah, it was a forgettable time in Thrasher history. Atlanta also got a 3rd round pick, which it traded away to someone.

Shean Donovan was traded to Atlanta, by Colorado, for Rick Tabaracci on December 8, 1999. What? I guess so. Donovan was then lost to Pittsburgh on waivers, on March 15, 2002. No comment.

Brian Pothier, defenseman, was signed by Atlanta as a free agent in March of 2000. Waddell traded him to Ottawa for the Senator’s 6th round draft pick at the 2004 Entry Draft, who became FARM SYSTEM Goaltender Dan Turple and future Thrasher Captain, Shawn McEachern, whose salary was $3.1 million at the time. McEachern retired in 2006.

Another Captain, Scott Mellanby, retired, due to advanced age. Bobby Holik was not offered a contract after being paid $12.75 million over 3 seasons, in one of the most CRIPPLING CONTRACTS ever signed by Atlanta. Holik then signed with NJ, in free agency.

These lists could go on and on. As crippling as Holik’s contract was, I doubt any contract was worse than Damian Rhodes’ 3-year/$10 million contract. Rhodes would play 81 games for Atlanta in the span, and could not even be “bought out,” as Rhodes sought out the team doctors of a southeast division rival, in Florida, to declare him “injured.” And by CBA rules, at that time, no injured player could be bought out.

Captain Ray Ferraro was dealt to St. Louis at the trade deadline in 2003, I believe, in a classy move by Waddell, to attempt to send Ray out with a playoff berth.

Through the years, R.Stroz, the only noteworthy Thrasher willing to re-sign, again and again, was Slava Kozlov. Oh, J.P. Vigier signed each and every time he was offered a contract. Until, finally, someone realized they shouldn’t be offering him contracts.

Somaatl95

January 12th, 2010
12:47 am

Brendan, I get your point. I would not walk away, however I would expect Karma to catch up with me one day. Everyone eventually gets what they deserve, its just a shame in this case we have to endure yet another sports team that has to shawshank their way slowly to mediocrity. 4 “Major League” teams in a city and one 1995 World Series to show for it. Sorry if my frustration makes me sound like a tool, just tired of bad decisions making our team yet another laughing stock of its respective sport. You’ve heard the “new” joke after the washington game the other night, right? Interstate 20, Thrashers 0. Same joke for the Braves, Falcons and Hawks in the past. If the NHL and the ASG has the balls to keep the Thrash here, say another 20 years, maybe we can win a playoff game or two with a team of hungry unknowns (Braves 1992, Falcons 1998, Hawks 2007) because as long as DW stays we wont have any big names want to stay here. Sigh.

Brendan

January 12th, 2010
12:58 am

I didn’t believe that Rick Tabaracci trade, since I had ZERO RECOLLECTION of Tabaracci as ever, ever playing with the Thrashers. So, I looked ‘im up. Turns out, he DID play a game here. He gave up 4 goals in a loss. Tabaracci signed with Atlanta, as a free agent, on November 3, 1999. He was traded to Colorado for Shean Donovan on December 8, 1999. Tabaracci played in two (2) games for Colorado. He spent most of the year in the minors, playing for Cleveland, Orlando, and the Utah Grizzlies. At the 2000 Entry Draft, Tabaracci was claimed by Columbus from Colorado. It was Columbus’ 1st ever draft. Tabaracci played as a backup goalie in Utah, with the Grizzlies, for all of the 2000-01 season. Tabaracci, shortly after being claimed by Columbus at the 2000 Draft, signed as a free agent by the Dallas Stars on July 12, 2000. But he never played a single game for them. Tabby retired in 2001, I think.

His stats? Well, I remember him mostly with the Washington Capitals, but he played a good bit with Calgary. He also played for Pittsburgh, Winnipeg, and Tampa Bay, along with Atlanta and Colorado. He won 93 games, losing 125, with 30 ties, for a 2.99 GAA, with 15 career shutouts. He was 4-12, in 17 games played in the postseason, with a 3.10 GAA. Tabaracci was selected 26th overall in the 1987 Entry Draft. He was Pittsburgh’s 2nd selection that year.

Now you know, “the rest of the story,” (Copyright, “Paul Harvey News,” all rights reserved.)

Ron Mexico

January 12th, 2010
12:58 am

How this Kovy saga ends is anyone’s guess, especially considering DW will be the one pulling the strings. I want Kovy to stay but not at the price that will mortgage the future. Here are some ideal hypothetical trade scenarios. So assuming Kovy leaves, if the Flyers are really dumb enough to give up Carter and either JVR or Giroux as rumored, then DW shold be committed if he does not pull the trigger on that. That’s a fair return. Now as for the Kings, this may be wishful thinking but a package that could suffice should consist of : Jack Johnson (D man that can help now), Oscar Moller or Wayne Simmonds (forward that can help now), a first round pick AND one of their highly touted defense prospects Colton Teubert or Thomas Hickey. I don’t see Chicago messing with their top notch chemistry to get involved, but if they do, a fair package should consist of Versteeg, Barker, Byfuglien and a pick. As for Boston: if they don’t start with parting with Toronto’s pick via the Kessel trade, I don’t want anything they’re selling, period. Any of these hypothetical deals or something comparable to them will give me some hope for the future.

*****One last thing to consider for all those who keep wondering about this franchise moving. Listen, this is one time we should all be glad Gary Bettman is the commisioner. If he was so hellbent on keeping the Coyotes in Phoenix, would’nt anybody think he would do the same for us too? Think about it, things may not be exactly ideal as they are now but 1) we don’t bleed money like Phoenix does, 2) We are a crucial top 10 US market that Bettman desperately does not want to lose, and 3) We do not have the lease issues and arena location issues Phoenix does. Even if we are sold, like in the Phoenix situation, I do believe that Bettman will make sure someone will eventaully emerge with the intent of keeeping us here. I’m crossing my fingers that Arthur Blank or heck even Ted Turner will wanna get in on it. So I for one am not sipping the anti-ATL/ Canadian supremacy Kool-aid that the blogospheres seem to be spewing out. So again, only time will tell what will happen, but let’s be at least thankful Betttman is committed to keeping all the teams right where they are! *****

Barry

January 12th, 2010
1:20 am

If Kovy is traded I want someone similar to Marian Hossa that’s good for about 30 goals. I say Marian Hossa because he was also so very good defensively, good back checker, protected the puck, and able to steal the puck on many occasions. Sure having a 40-50 goal scorer is nice, but what this team really needs is good offensive forwards that are not such a huge liability on defense. Good defense leads to good offense. Hard to have offense if you can’t get the puck back or even out of your own zone ya know?

Brendan

January 12th, 2010
1:32 am

Somaatl95, you don’t sound like a tool. And your frustration is well understood, and well placed, at a 1-7-3 stretch of games, in Season 10. I hadn’t heard that “Interstate 20, Atlanta 0″ joke before. It’s pretty good.

I like the Braves. I used to go to a lot of their games. And Atlanta Knights games, too. Back when it made SENSE to yell, “Knights!” After all, it was “Knight tiiiiiime in At-lann-tahhhhh!” But once the Thrashers arrived, I made a decision to spend my disposable sports dollars something close to exclusively on hockey. Great move, eh? People are screaming, “Shoulda stuck with the Braves! Or at least, the Falcons.” I miss Fulton County Stadium, truthfully. That was a wonderful venue. And I never found the Omni to be lacking in any respect. Other than luxury boxes, which didn’t impact me. I loved the seats I had at the Omni for Knights games. If I’d known … the pending NHL product would result in utter neglect of this market, I’d have lobbied to keep the Knights here. They did win the Turner Cup in 1994. It’s likely to remain the only professional hockey championship this city is apt to have, for quite some time. Though, clearly I remember being utterly flustered by the goaltending of Tyler Moss, who was TERRIBLE in shootouts. But I loved Stan Drulia. I think he still lives in Tampa Bay.

The thing that bothered me about the Braves was … that they never seemed to really look at what they needed to do beyond winning the NL East, and NLCS. It was as if … the Bobby Cox strategy was to play the percentages … to a 92-70 season, then hope the pitching holds out and the bats come alive. When really, I kept thinking, “Where’s the Power closer? Where are the “aces, who throw HEAT?” And, “How is this supposed to beat the Yankees?” In short, it felt like the strategy was just to get to the World Series … then hope for a miracle. With the underlying thought that … if you get there enough times, maybe you’ll win one. When it was all said and done, the Braves were 1-4 in the WS, and 5-4 in the NLCS. And the Atlanta-haters love to remind me that 1995 was a “strike-shortened season,” where Atlanta enjoyed home field advantage due to a Strike that cancelled the 1994 World Series. The Cleveland Indians were 100-44 that year. Which was a very good record.

LAC

January 12th, 2010
4:32 am

How refreshing to see Mr.Arthur Blank and his management team discussing HIS team, nice ring to it HIS TEAM.

Would the Idiot sririt clowns ever be seen togather at something like that ? NO They are afraid little boys like the school bully is going to beat them up if they ever show their worthless faces.

I quit mt ST in after 2006-2007 and have never been back, I am not going to spend a penny to go see a team assembled by don waddell, I’m sick of seeing losing season after losing season. Sure the won the SE once, but every other year has mostly been bad.

I see Andrew Burnette is still scoring goals in Minnesota, didn’t he score the OT winner against Patric Roy in his last game ? But he’s
not good enough to play in Atlanta according to The Man with NO BRAIN
worthless waddell.

Does waddell know how the fans fell about him ? The wimp Consitution reporter won’t ask because he is afraid waddell might get upset, what a wimp he is.

This franchise is not toast in Atlanta, The ONLY hope is the NHL finally sees what is going on and takes over the team. Otherwise the team will be gone after next season… Very Very Sad.

LAC

January 12th, 2010
4:58 am

Anyone out there see this from 4th period.

“Kovalchuk, Grossman, Waddell and part owner Bruce Levenson all got together at the end of October to map out a game plan. According to a source, it was the first time the green light was given to start contract talks.” This writer also addressed the ownership group
as a MESS ! How True !

Don’t you love it “part owner”, when did this FOOL even make it to a meeting ? Was this after or before the famous LIE of waddell’s
“We won’t be talking about this at Christmas.”

Just more proof how out of control this franchise is, I’d rather start all over lock stock and barrel, forget it and get a new team owner & players, then maybe in 10 more years we will be after The Stanley Cup and will have forgotten waddell and the sririt clowns.

Here's the dilly-yo

January 12th, 2010
5:24 am

Toronto Star:

“And if you’re Kovalchuk, already facing the same uncertain labour conditions as other NHL players who are part of a shattered union, why in the world would you add to your potential misery by signing with a consistent loser with ownership and attendance problems?”

That says it all.

World Be Free

January 12th, 2010
5:37 am

Brendan, great posts as usual-

My thoughts on dealing with Kovy’s contract, or any player’s contract is that you have to be in control of the situation. We allowed the player to take control of the negotiations, dictate when he will begin negotiations instead of looking out for the best interests of the franchise. The team comes first, which has not been the case with this player and his contract negotiations.

The team started the season well, they won consistently charting their path towards the playoiffs. Then the contract negotiations dragged on and the distractions grew.

Simply put, you either sign the contract with the team that we have assembled, with additional countrymen to make you happy or decide you want to play somewhere else. This should have never gone past October 1, 2009 maybe even earlier.

As you stated, Los Angeles has assets and cap room to make this deal. They have been waiting for what we all knew was coming. Now let’s just hope we can make the best possible deal and be done with. Who knows, maybe the Thrashers will go on a tear with the cloud over the club removed.

GaVaHokie

January 12th, 2010
8:41 am

What a slippery slope a losing streak creates… *sigh*

However, I’m all for trading away Kovy for a change of pace… I’m tired of the “dog and pony” show where 25% of the team salary goes to one or two star players and the rest of the roster is filled out with “jobbers”. That’s essentially what’s happened in the 10 year existence of the team. It’s not working… try something else.

Stroz… I’m pretty sure if all Kovy was asking for was $9 million, this would be done by now… that’s only $1.5 million more than we pay him now. I’d still be hesitant to be paying him that 10 years down the road, though.

Not Blind

January 12th, 2010
8:41 am

The only way I would sign him is with a bonus heavy contract. Something like $4m a year base; end the year +8 and you get another $500k; +9 equals another $500k; +10 another $1m. Make the 2nd round of the playoffs +$500k. Make conference finals +$500k. Make SC finals +$500k. Win cup +$1m. $8.5m max if you win the cup. [I hope those numbers add up :)

sisu

January 12th, 2010
8:42 am

And now comes the part about signing guys Kovy wanted…I had a feeling that the team would get stuck with Antropod, 4 years was three too many.

Only other thing that makes any sense in this is that DW is going thru the media to call the agents bluff and putting the negotiations out in public.

Not Blind

January 12th, 2010
8:46 am

Oh yeah, give Grossman this proposal today with a reply needed by Thursday. If Kovalchuk says no then trade him within a couple of days.

GaVaHokie

January 12th, 2010
8:54 am

Wish List….

Los Angeles: Dustin Brown, Frolov, Brayden Schenn
Chicago: Patrick Sharp, Versteeg and Jack Skille
Philly: JVR, Giroux, Parent
Boston: Toronto’s 2010 1st round pick (probably a top 5 pick), and, I don’t know… Bergeron? I hate the Bruins line-up.

Jimbo

January 12th, 2010
8:59 am

C’mon gang, anyone believe that Kovy has not been out of here for quite some time? Grossman playing the old game of waiting to get Kovy a good contending team for the playoff run and the gold of the “free agency sweepstakes” this summer. Spirit has been trying to trade Donnie Brilliance for the remains of King Clancy. So far, no luck. Heck, I’d take a framed picture of Emile Francis.

Nikita

January 12th, 2010
9:08 am

I think some perspective is needed.

A few facts:

1. There’s no freakin’ way that anyone will pay Kovy league max for the next half-century. Just to compare, the glamour twins from Pittsburgh are each paid $9 mill, and they’re both better players in terms of overall skills. Rick Nash is undervalued at $5.5 mill. So if that’s what he’s asking for from Atlanta, then he’s either asking for a premium to stick with a subpar team or he’s cocky about his value to this specific team. I say in either case we call his bluff — and if someone really does want to overpay for his skills, with all their attendant challenges, then more power to them.

2. Without Kovy, the team does better. And by “better,” I mean about .500, with consistent two-way play and secondary scoring. With Kovalchuk, the whole damn team does their best to facilitate his scoring. So…yep, Kovalchuks don’t grow on trees. But without Kovalchuk the thing we actually want, which is a well-rounded team that poses a scoring threat from every line at every position, is within reach.

3. I’m sick of hearing about how management has failed to sign Princess Kovy. By all accounts, they let him do whatever the hell he wants, more or less. I believe Anderson isn’t allowed to discipline him right now — Anderson also had to accommodate Kovy’s chosen linemates, who are also cherrypicking one-way players. So…the team’s not doing well enough for Kovy to sign? And whose fault is that? Hint: maybe the captain and his entourage have at least a modicum of responsibility for it.

4. I’m also sick about hearing how terrible everyone is whose name doesn’t end in a “chuk” or an “ov.” a. those guys aren’t paid the big bucks, b. most of them are still developing or are in some form of transition. and c. the guys who ARE paid the big bucks? They’re not modeling big bucks behavior. So pick on them while you’re at it. With greater pay should come greater expectations.

The Real Thrash

January 12th, 2010
9:14 am

Pucky Puckmeister: Does this person know wnything about hockey? Or winning in sports? Or is being jealous of sport’s salaries a sport?

Russ

January 12th, 2010
9:21 am

I would ask for Lucic and Rask from Boston for Kovy. I don’t know if Boston would do it, but if Rask continues to develop he could finally solve the never-ending #1 goalie question and Lucic is a very physical forward with a scoring touch. It would be nice to have a player around that was actually willing to hit somebody.

Not Blind

January 12th, 2010
9:39 am

Other than DW, is there a GM dumb enough to trade Lucic for Kovalchuk ?

Tom

January 12th, 2010
9:39 am

Hammer meet nail.

From Damien Cox at TheStar.com:

Atlanta hasn’t said as a team, as Nashville basically has, that it won’t pay any player more than $5 million per season because it can’t. The Thrashers also aren’t one of those teams pounding at the salary cap ceiling. They’re in-between, a team run by an ownership group that isn’t sure whether it wants to keep the team, sell the team, sign Kovalchuk, trade Kovalchuk or call a timeout and ask for a lifeline.

I doubt they are smart enough to ask for a lifeline.

Here is the full article http://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/nhl/article/749480–cox-kovalchuk-likely-on-the-move

Shelly

January 12th, 2010
9:47 am

“The Real Thrash,” we all sure would like to read your commentary, but writing it in English next time sure would be a big help. Thanks.

Not Blind

January 12th, 2010
9:47 am

“…. and Kovalchuk at least likes to drop the gloves now and then.”

Say what ??????
Damien Cox must have never seen Kovalchuk fight. Chin tucked down on his chest. Flailing his hands around. Hanging on for dear life.

GaVaHokie

January 12th, 2010
9:48 am

Damien Cox’s opinion is the nail in the coffin?!

Schroeder

January 12th, 2010
9:54 am

Ladies and gentleman this entire exercise is frightening.The prospect of re-signing IK and him suddenly becomeing a PLUS winger or the unknown of having marginal players and prospects in return.Pick your poison.#17 has been skating figure 8’s at center ice for his entire stay here,BEFORE any contract issues.I have a difficult time comprehending that if he re-signs this will change.I am not a IK hater,I get excited everytime I see him in open ice w/the puck.But usually what happens is that his linemates tend to become spectators as well,instead of crashing the net,as they should,they have to hang back so that WHEN he either gets stripped of the puck or it just rolls off his stick,they can get ready for the 3 on 2 that is sure to come their way. That being said I believe that whatever comes of this,trade or re-sign.No one is going to benefit,re-sign him andhope that the team wakes back up and can make a playoof run,trade him and try to get the new players to buy into JA’s “SYSTEM” and hope that the learning curve is more of a straight line than a circle. Insomuch as we all judge DW and his follies of the past,I would not want to be the one that screws this pooch,as I fear is going to happen.I will say that unless they start issueing crystal balls with that job,no GM can survive without an a$$load of luck.I pray that this one time the sun will shine on this dog’s(DW)a$$.BUT,it’s a 2 edged sword,if dandy Don pulls off a winner,We will be stuck with him for the rest of his natural life. I’m sorry about the rant,but I don’t see this going well unless a package of players that will help this team now,along with prospects for the future can be worked out. I can only see a trade being beneficial to both parties.

stendec

January 12th, 2010
9:56 am

How many teams have won championships without verified superstars? That is why these are called TEAMS. Want one guy who scores 50 goals but can be easily defensed and shut down? What then? How about several guys who are equally dangerous? Much harder to close down several players than one. I would take a trio of 20 or so goal guys for El Kapitan Ilya “No Money In Olympics?” Kovalchuk in a microsecond! So damn tired of his uncaptainlike ways. I am sure Russian is a nice guy. It is just painfully obvious to everyone that loser has quit on team. Bad enough for a regular player but totally unacceptable for a supposed team captain! Rip that C off his uniform. Give the damn thing to Moose Hedberg if someone HAS to wear it! Better to play remainder of campaign WITHOUT captain. Who truly deserves designation? Be honest. ++STENDEC++ Another pet peeve. True captains live to kill off penalties. Yardbird captain lives to misfire on countless feeds during man advantages. On penalty kill? Spare me!

Not Blind

January 12th, 2010
10:12 am

Kovalchuk has never had any monetary incentive to play hard so that’s the reason for the bonus heavy contract idea. If he want’s to make a lot of money he has to EARN it.

Schroeder

January 12th, 2010
10:14 am

I forgot to put in my pick,I feel that we will finally get a deal done and hope that this team of “professionals”will get on with the business of winning games. I agree 10000% with ++stendec++,I would rather have 2-3 20-30 goal scorers than 1 50 goal no defense playin figure skater. But I have a feeling that this will be dandy Don at his finest.We will be spending the next 10 years lamenting about not being able to sign the type of supporting players that this TEAM will need as the ASG will not pony up for other players.

Bob

January 12th, 2010
10:14 am

“I only hope that Don Waddell can actually bring a maximum return for Kovalchuk…”

That day is long past. The only way he can get close to full value for Kovy now is if a sign and trade can be orchestrated. If the Kings can sign him to a long term deal, then they’ll give up assets.

But if not, then Waddell has backed himself into a corner and will get a middling NHLer (think a Colby Armstrong type) a prospect and a draft pick. And then we have to pray that a new GM will finally be brought in to spend that $9m wisely next summer.

Waddell should’ve set a deadline of the opening of training camp for the deal to be done, and if Kovy hadn’t signed, trade him then.

Rawhide

January 12th, 2010
10:24 am

Waddell should’ve set a deadline of the opening of training camp for the deal to be done, and if Kovy hadn’t signed, trade him then.

Bob – I agree with your observation and opinion that DW could have gotten more last summer and that waiting until now will probably net us the same ess-than-desirable return that we got two years ago for Hossa/Dupuis.

But here is an interesting post Falconer put up yesterday that brings up another angle to this whole story…did the Great Octocluster known as the AS, LLC hold up contract talks with Kovy for two months last fall?

Don’t know if it’s true or not, obvioulsy…but such a scenario would not stun me at all.

MashaPlayer7

January 12th, 2010
10:25 am

I agree with the sentiments of Nikita and (gasp!) Stendec: Kovalchuk is not worth the money. Sure he is entertaining, he’ll pop in his 50 goals a year, but what else does he do? He does not bring the intangibles that other superstars like Ovechkin or (gasp!) Crosby do. We need stars you can lean on in tough times…Kovy is not one of those players. I mean the guy doesn’t even try in shootouts where a valuable point is at stake. I’d say trade him get a good core player back and maybe a prospect, then try to resign him in the summer at Rick Nash numbers. If he says no, let him go!

I’d rather see this franchise fail with a group of guys, coaching and management who give a damn every game than some floater player who has his eyes on his goal total.

The Real Thrash

January 12th, 2010
10:28 am

Ilya: I fall to my knees for you, O, Ilya. If I could conceive I would name my first born children’s after you. The owner’s don’t know anything about hockey or your greatness and they should pay whatever you desire. I worship you #17. You are my god.

Nikita

January 12th, 2010
10:49 am

P.S. Let me also add something, which I’ve mentioned before and which comes from inside sources. Kovalchuk doesn’t play well with others, and he’s exercised a lot of control over his playing environment over the last few years. So keeping him means we will NEVER have someone who is equal to him or better on the same roster. I’m not willing to accept that, personally.

Brendan

January 12th, 2010
10:52 am

GaVaHokie, I hear ya, bro. I do. We’re in the midst of a bad patch of season (1-7-3). And consequently, we’re nearly talking “firesale.” When a total OUTSIDER would gaze at the standings and say, “You guys are a .500 team, a few points out of a playoff spot. Lots of .500 teams at this juncture of the season wind up inside the playoffs, and even winning a round.” While that, conceptually, is true. There is ample evidence of that. How many of us BELIEVE it?

It’s the crisis of faith. It’s that, well, it just doesn’t seem to happen for us, over the course of nine completed seasons. We don’t have an identity. We don’t have a strategy. We don’t have a “mold” that we try to draft players into, come June. We’re, essentially, rudderless. We’ve tried everything. We tried fielding a team of minor leaguers, has beens, and ‘tweeners. We tried to go the VETERAN route. Now, we’re in a youth movement. But it’s the SAME GM, not 3 or 4 that have produced these types of rosters. So, I really think it’s a FAIR QUESTION to ask Don Waddell, “Sir, what has been YOUR PLAN, all this time?” I’m sure that Waddell would do better, with better ownership. But he’s still responsible for oversight. Ownership doesn’t tell him who to draft. Ownership doesn’t tell him who to trade. Ownership doesn’t tell him who to hire as scouts and coaches. Or equipment managers, for that matter. With nine Top 10 overall draft picks and six lottery draft picks, and NO BERTHS into the Conference Finals, the strategy MUST BE FLAWED.

What I’m saying here is … if the organization cannot or will not recognize this as a problem, then we’re in big trouble. Perhaps, they HAVE realized it, and that’s why Dudley is here. To serve as Waddell’s “advisor.” Well shoot, hand him the reigns. Don’t ask him to “advise.” Give him the power to OVERSEE this club. I’m willing to give the guy a chance, even though he would NOT have been my first choice, or fifth choice, to be the next GM of this club.

Paminski

January 12th, 2010
10:54 am

Russian – I thought Russians were supposed to be pessimistic. ;)

Barry – Agreed. Like him or hate him, Hossa is a well-rounded 2-way player. Even when he’s not playing up to his ability, he’s not bad. He’s a talented guy who also works on his game consciously.

Brendan

January 12th, 2010
10:56 am

R.Stroz, how’d I do on my list of Thrashers who came and went?