Home > NHL > Against the Grain, The Argument Against Kovalchuk

Against the Grain, The Argument Against Kovalchuk


These 3 Sins Have Finally Found Me… Lust Ambition and Greed…

Came Without Warning and Burned Whatever They Could Steal

These Three Sins- Split the Difference, Gomez


Any idea how long I’ve waited to see the fireworks under the Arch??! Any clue?! Since I moved here, that’s all. Bad enough Ilya Kovalchuk threw off my whole weekend, kept me from getting work done, and had me sitting in a grocery store parking lot! Plus my poor eye! It has been twitching on and off for a week now. Although, in fairness, my eye is because of the general free-for-all that has become the Free Agent Fiasco of 2010.

So finally, I leave the apartment feeling reasonably safe that there wouldn’t be Kovalchuk news on the 4th of July. Well you know what they say about assumptions…

Not out of the house and under the Arch for five minutes when the floodgates open out of Helene Elliot and the Los Angeles Times. Kovalchuk had woken up from his mid-summer nap and said no to Dean Lombardi’s best offer. He wouldn’t back down from 10 million per year.

My poor friend had to put up with my iPhone foolishness for the rest of the night and I had to restrain myself from attempting to write a blog from my iPhone. As details swirled from “expert” after “expert” about who was confirming, who wasn’t.. who was speaking and who wasn’t… there went my eye.

And should this be a rue… a red herring on the part of both camps that would get Kovalchuk to the Kings for six-million per instead of ten while allowing Kovalchuk to save face; which could have waited till after the fireworks UNDER the Arch? I’ll have to blow a fuse for the fireworks they caused in my head…

And with that here.. finally.. in one place.. is my argument against Kovalchuk. And it has been my argument since the word “GO”.

I Could Wait All My Life For Someone to Think,

I Can’t Open Your Eyes but I Can Make You Blink at Me

Silence- Split the Difference, Gomez


1) The 10 million dollars in cap space doesn’t exist. It is an illusion. And do you know who I learned this from? Dean Lombardi.


So I’m just going to quote him, as I did, in a blog I wrote on June 19th. He said it Monday, June 7th, on Toronto’s AM Radio 640: The Leafs Lunch show (which if I now I understand, is now cancelled– very sad).

PS Add to Lombardi’s list:  Jonathan Bernier. Now mind you I’m still learning all the inner details of how this works but I’m getting better. Big thanks to the help of many. The Hockey Guys, Matt Reitz, who writes: A View From My Seats, The Royal Half and two Twitter friends (RyanClassic and Fan960Steinberg).

Specifically, Reitz recently wrote: Cliff Notes: Restricted Free Agents

Dean Lombardi: “The dilemma is do you get aggressive or just focus on keeping your own… When you look at our cap room now, you see we have 10 million dollars in space. But if I put a guy in at 6.5 and then I’ve got Doughty and Johnson and Simmonds and these guys add-up and boom, it’s gone.”

So complain that Lombardi struck out, didn’t do anything or that the Kings don’t want to win if we don’t give in. But answer this? If the Kings jump the gun and after all this slow build and patience blow it on a quick, stupid move; are you going to want to show up to games when the only player you recognize is this one?

2) The Kings have more holes to fill then just one player can handle.

The Kings still need a certified (before we all become certifiable) 2nd line center and an “enforcer”. Now enforcer, after a lovely discussion with the above mentioned Reitz can come down to definition so I’ll clarify mine. Not a goon. I don’t believe in goons. They had their place, but not anymore. As for the enforcer? I don’t think it is Simmonds. He has a greater job to fulfill with his skill-set. He was already out of the line-up for eight weeks last season, it could easily increase if his role went by way of “don’t mess with mine”.

Now I’ve been talking about Kevin Westgarth hopefully coming to take this role. 6’4 220lbs and from what I’ve been researching an impressive year in Manchester. During my conversation with Reitz, he mentioned a name I hadn’t heard in a bit: Kyle Clifford. Now in all honesty, my mother could fulfill the role and I’d be happy. Having said this, Clifford ranges in height from 6’0 to 6’2 (no kidding) and 200-210 lbs (I sway 5 lbs when ice cream is on sale, but not 2 inches). He will be given a chance to make the team this year. According to these same sites, he needs to work on his skating. On the upside he’s competitive, a hard worker and a physical freight train (that’s mine) that is responsible in his own zone.  So if one of these two pan out (just like Jamie Storr and Aki Berg did- please note sarcasm) I’m sure it’ll be fine.

Then there is a second line center. We need one. Not sure there is much else to say other than that. Kovalchuk isn’t a center and unless he’s going to pull an A-Rod (in terms of switching position, nothing else thank you very much), he can’t really do much with that issue. And at ten-million per year I think he should solve every problem in Los Angeles, including traffic and I don’t even live there.

By the way: If the enforcer doesn’t pan out or isn’t brought in? What happens to Kovalchuk, anyway? His ten-million dollar body is going to end-up with everyone else: on the IR at some point. Or the one center we do have is going to end up injured and then well… let’s go to the below.

3) Kovalchuk doesn’t fit the team’s personality and needs a serious attitude adjustment.

The La Kings have a good chemistry going, and a connection. I think it important that it stays that way. The NHL has an identity to most of its players with fans that I think is unique. Kovalchuk doesn’t represent this. I’ve said it from the beginning and now it has been proven. I’m not saying he isn’t skilled or won’t play hard. But do you think he’d play with a busted eye like Dustin Brown or Daniele Briere? I don’t.. or not like they did. There is an attitude about the LA Kings, a feistiness and an ethic. He doesn’t fit it, he’s not a good leader for the young core that is there and I, personally, don’t want it. Not for 10 million, not for 8, even. I’d rather keep Frolov at 3 million. Even Frolov was throwing his body around in the playoffs and when that is happening, you know a team is thirsty. I just don’t see Kovalchuk ever being that thirsty.

4) Let’s take a larger look then just the LA Kings. NHL CBA negotiations are coming.

Dean Lombardi: “It’s the allocation within the cap and I don’t know how many players really think it’s fair either to have that much discrepancy… It’s just something about what the nature of sports is supposed to be; when three guys are taking 70% of the payroll and the other guys are making $400,000… And again, I think the players are entitled to their share. Its more the allocation in there. It makes it reasonable for both sides. I think it helps the team, I think it helps the union, and I think it’s good for the game.”

Another lovely conversation with Jeff Marek on this subject on Twitter tonight too– it was quite a buzz when I got home.

Again, am I arguing that Kovalchuk is a good player? No. I am arguing at his asking price for any team. At some point someone has to stand-up and say no for the sake of the NHL. Do the players, the GMs, owners or any of us want short-term satisfaction or an NHL to watch and play in? Because when the CBA comes knocking and we are all locked out from the arenas, then what? Once Kovalchuk gets his ten million do you think it stops? I don’t. I think the next player just down the talent totem pole says, I want my eight million when they shouldn’t have five. I think then the players who should be making $800,000 start asking for 2.5 million. This is what happened to the other three leagues. The thing is? The NHL can’t afford it. And worse? You remember the last lock out? I do. It was painful and the NHL was hot coming off the New York Rangers winning the cup. I still don’t think the NHL has completely recovered and I’m not sure it’ll recover from another one at all. I know Dean Lombardi has talked about this sense of responsibility. Here’s to hoping he sticks to it. And yes. Even if you think it is at the expense of the Kings, which I don’t.

That’s it. It’s enough. And for now on when asked for the millionth time why I’m one of few voices on this side of the Kovalchuk fence; I’m just going to link to this article. Because I can’t type it anymore in 140 characters or on Facebook. But do understand a couple quick end points:

1) Should this be, as stated above a red-herring, and the LA Kings sign Kovalchuk for any amount, I’m a part of the Kingdom, I love my boys. And off the top of my head I can think of maybe, one or two players that could possibly keep me out of the Kingdom. He’s not one of them. I would pray I’m wrong and be happy to say that I am. So don’t go there, if he’s signed. I’m not going to hear it or listen to it. I will link here and say, read the end.

2) If he’s signed for six million or below? Good for Lombardi. He’s a mastermind. And he may have driven us all to various institutions across this country, but bless him for getting a deal of a life-time done. Because while I still don’t like his attitude and the other issues above (minus the NHL because I think Kovalchuk gets six million), I think it’s much more understandable and worth betting on at six million then ten. Should it been that range from the beginning, I would have been more positive (though still not completely supportive) of the idea.

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