Kings and Kovlachuk camp deadlocked in waiting game
After talking to a couple of people tonight, I can shed a little more light on the proceedings this week while unrestricted free agent Ilya Kovalchuk was in Los Angeles visiting with the Kings.
As the Los Angeles Times reported earlier, Kovalchuk left Los Angeles Tuesday while his agent, Jay Grossman, stayed behind for a while longer to meet with Kings general manager Dean Lombardi. Grossman then left Tuesday night without the sides reaching an agreement on a contract.
From what I understand, neither side has dropped out, but they also are deadlocked in negotiations with neither side budging right now. The Kings have offered a long-term deal in the range of $6 million to $6.5 million per season, The Kovlachuk camp is still sticking to its demands of $10 million per season for 10 years or at least close to that.
At this point, it appears to be a game of chicken with each side waiting for the other to flinch. The Kings feel they’ve gone as far as they can financially without jeopardizing the long-term future of the young core of their team. On the other hand. Kovalchuk and Grossman know they turned down one contract offer for a total of $101 million over 12 years and another for $70 million over seven seasons from the Thrashers in January. Taking less than that now will be considered a failed gamble by some and fear of that public perception might be a contributing factor to Kovalchuk’s camp’s firm stance.
At the same time, though, it is clear that Kovalchuk wants to play in L.A. and the Kings want him. Kovalchuk’s wife, Nicole, accompanied him on the trip to Los Angeles and, apparently, the parts not involving the contract negotiations went well.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Kovalchuk met with Kings coach Terry Murray and players Dustin Brown, Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene while getting a tour of the team’s practice facility in El Segundo. Sport Express in Russia reported that one of Kovalchuk’s meetings with team officials also included a team “sponsor.”
So, though there is a stalemate in contract negotiations, the remaining mutual interest means this thing is far from dead. It also probably means that it’s going to drag on a while longer while the sides continue to try to wait each other out. After all, Kovalchuk doesn’t have to be under contract until with an NHL team early September.