Apparently today is one of the days on Jeff Schultz's "5 hockey articles a year" plan, and he's written a dandy, all about the increasingly crazy-making Kovalchuk situation.
There was a report this week in a Russian sports newspaper that negotiations between the Thrashers and Kovalchuk now are at an impasse, that he asked for a 10-year contract at the maximum salary allowed by the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement (20 percent of the salary cap, the equivalent of $11.3 million per season) and the team balked.
Now, I know two things about unsourced reports on contract negotiations: 1) You often can’t believe them, especially when they’re in Russian newspapers; 2) Talks can change with one phone call. I’ve also learned that the most honest guy tends to be the player. I once covered a protracted negotiation and quickly discovered that both the general manager and the player’s agent were lying to me about their proposals. Fortunately, the player was telling me the truth.
OK, so Jeff Schultz has written to tell us that he knows what's going to happen with Kovalchuk because
1) he's heard tell of that article in SovSport and perhaps even used Google Translate to look at some version of it.
2) he knows the SovSport article is very likely bullshit, as Russian papers, the Russian KHL, and even the Russian government (if you think I'm exaggerating I'd be happy to discuss the particulars of this some other time) have a vested interest in Kovalchuk not signing in Atlanta.
3) Don Waddell is saying the same things he's been saying forever.
He doesn't know any more about the situation than any other Earth-dwelling human apart from Kovalchuk and Waddell and Jay Grossman, but he implies throughout the piece that Kovalchuk definitely won't re-sign.
Now, I'm not saying that Kovalchuk will re-sign. I'm not saying he won't re-sign. Alas, I can't read the dude's mind. I get more anxious about it as the days wear on, and I think Waddell is making himself look ridiculous by constantly moving the goalposts ("we'll have a deal by the start of the year" becomes "we won't be talking about this at Christmas," etc.).
All I'm saying is that you get the sports columnists you deserve. Have a nice day.