By now I’m sure all of you have heard or read what 680 The Fan’s John Kincade had to say regarding Ilya Kovalchuk and his eminent departure of Thrasherville. He’s as good as gone, says the co-host of the Buck and KincadeShowwhich is heard on the team’s flagship station during the drive home.
Yesterday I discussed this with John and he told me, “I can’t reveal the sources, but have confirmed it from both sides of the story”. Continuing he said, “I am 100% certain Ilya Kovalchuk will be leaving the Thrashers…I think he will be moved before the Olympic break with almost the same certainty”.
In a nutshell, Kincade is stating that Don Waddell and the Thrashers have offered the pending free agent, “The largest contract ever to an unrestricted free agent and that he turned it down”.
The number I’ve heard kicked around is a long-term deal that would pay him about $10 million per season.
Even with this revelation, John wasn’t ready to toss the only GM the Thrashers have ever had underneath the next MARTA bus coming down Peachtree Street for this latest failure. Nope…instead he pins it right on the captain.
“I think it tells me that the Kovy camp song and dance about ‘wanting to be here’ was obviously a load of crap”, said Kincade. “All Waddell can do is offer him a great contract, if he wanted to be here as his camp has said repeatedly he would be here”.
Me? Well, sorry…I certainly see where my pal John can come to that conclusion. But the team’s inability to retain big-name players is a major issue in Thrashervilleand, in this fan’s humble opinion, responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of the man who is paid major bucks to do just that…convince the Savards, Hossas and Kovalchuks to remain here.
Along with the Kovy bomb Kincade dropped on us yesterday, he also indicated the he has been led to believe Kari Lehtonen has played his last game as a Thrasher and he will be moved potentially to Dallas or St. Louis.
And none of these reports came with a (k3) disclaimer at the end of them.
Also reported yesterday was this line in Chris Vivlamore’s latest blog entry…
“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.
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.”
Now, let’s fast-forward to the Taco Mac Post-Game Show hosted by radio voice of the Thrashers Dan Kamal and TV color analyst Darin Elliot. As I was making my way home from the latest disappointing 1-goal loss of the season, I listened as they made reference to the number of close losses the team has suffered this year. I believe it was Elliot who observed that… and I am paraphrasing… “If the entire team was on-board for all these games, including the captain, then how many of those defeats could have been overcome”.
Reading between the lines…Ilya has left the building!
Given all of that, I don’t think it’s too far of a stretch to believe that the whole Kovy saga is just about ready to wrap itself up in much the same fashion that the Hossa saga of just two seasons ago did. Don Waddell…once again…is going to be forced to trade away a key player, maybe even the key player, of the franchise because he was unable to convince said player to remain with the organization he general manages.
Of course, many will say that Kovalchuk’s impending departure will actually be a good thing for the organization. Yeah…maybe. We could get this player…or that group of players, maybe even along with some draft picks…upgrade the team and continue to improve.
Uh-huh…and didn’t we hear the same thing just two years ago as well?
Since that time, the team tanked to finish the 2007-08 season with 76 points…finished the following season with 76 points…and, with Tuesday night’s loss, are heading towards something around 83 points this time around.
If Waddell “improves” the team as well as he did with the Hossa trade, the team should be closing in on the 90 point mark somewhere around…oh… 2015.
As I have opined before, I’m not really bothered with the thought of life in Thrasherville A.K., (After Kovy). If he’s looking to move on, then…see ya! But what does make my stomach feel kinda icky is the thought that we are going to be sitting here 2 years down the road with nothing, zilch, zero, nada to show for the transaction that sent him packing.
That, plus it will also mean that the Thrashers franchise will be starting over… yet again…building around another player or set of players. And that the same man who has been the architect of the first two “five year plans” will be sitting down to the drawing board to pencil up yet a third one.
Yes, I feel that Kovy has indeed left the building. Not just the “building” that is Philips Arena…but the “building” that has gone on for a decade now with so little to show for it.
And Now…About Last Night
I’ll keep this short and sweet. The Thrashers lost …again…to Antero Niittymaki, this time 2-1 to he and the Tampa Bay Lightning. He is now 16-0 against Atlanta. I fear we shall never break this Niitty-curse.
The Thrashers outshot the Bolts 27-24.
Ondrej Pavelec stopped 22 of the 24 SOG he face…all 21 shots after he saw 2 of the forst 3 get past him.
Wasted in this effort was a Todd White goal, score in the second period when he neatly deflected in a Mark Popovic shot. Not good at all when the team isn’t able to net a win on the night White scores his one goal for the month.
The loss drops the Thrashers to 24-23-8 and drops them to fourth in the Southeast Division and eleventh in the Eastern Conference. Boston is in twelfth place with 55 and they play in Montreal tomorrow night. The Islanders are in thirteenth place with 54 points and are in Tampa Bay Thursday night.
Happy Birthday Carly
I want to wish a happy birthday to the lovely and vicarious Carly…a.k.a. Tony C’s “baby-mama”. She was in attendance with Tony over in section 117 and I had the pleasure of spending some time with them in Taco Mac after the game.
That, Tony C., is a great gal!