Monday, January 11, 2010

The Lombards Invade Atlanta, Perhaps, Maybe...Who Knows?

It's no secret, comrades, that much like the British Labour Party or Australia's freshwater crocodiles, your Atlanta Thrashers are in trouble. Humiliating, degrading loss on Saturday night; Kovalchuk situation not even close to being resolved; you all know the score.

Yesterday our comments section saw some healthy discussion of the Fourth Period's newest pet rumor about Kings GM Dean Lombardi flying to Atlanta to talk to Don Waddell. Obviously we have no idea if this is true, but I'm sure there are people, somewhere, who might be able to find out what's going on. People who work for the Newspapers, perhaps, and cover the Atlanta Thrashers. "Fast" Willy Tiller, where are you on this one? All you have to do is dial D-Wadd's number, say "Is there any truth to the rumor that you've hanging with Dean Lombardi?" and chuckle loudly to yourself when he answers.

Like I said in the comments below my last post, the Kings have always seemed like the most logical destination for Kovalchuk (a fact which ought to make the Battle of California's Rudy Kelly's head joyously explode). They certainly have a lot to offer for him, but I agree with all those who've said they can't imagine a team giving up too much for a player that's likely to be just a rental.

If you're looking for an idea of what we could get from LA for a player of Kovalchuk's calibre, look to history. Dean Lombardi is great at building teams with young prospects; his tenures with the Sharks and the Kings prove that. He's less great, but still pretty good, at making big, high-profile trades of the kind perfected by his Sharks successor Doug Wilson. Sometimes he'll give you something in return (Kyle Quincey for Ryan Smyth, a move that's been good for both of the teams invovled), often he won't (Jeff Friesen and Steve Shields for Teemu Selanne, draft picks for Vincent Damphousse, God knows what for Mike Vernon and Owen Nolan).

Draw your own conclusions.


h said...

HTM reported this morning that Grossman is in town, for whatever that is worth.....

j_barty_party said...

You know what would REALLY suck?

If Grossman is in town this week to finalize the deal, Kovy signs the contract for a zillion dollars or what not and then we proceed to finish January 5 games under .500?

IOW, worst case scenario, we sign our big gun, our captain, our savior! And then we still suck.

Someone please notify Wayne Simmonds that his presence is desired here in the ATL.

That is all.

Mortimer Peacock said...

I like your Wayne Simmonds idea, Mr. Speaker. And yeah, just how humiliating would it be if we 1) signed Kovalchuk for the league max, and 2) continued to suck?

I really don't want the Thrashers to be the team with the highest paid guy in the game. Kovalchuk getting the max would just be embarrassing.

Big Shooter said...

You know what would REALLY REALLY suck? We trade our big gun, our Captain, our savior, get spare parts in return, and proceed to finish Jan 5 games under .500.

And we still suck.

Let's not all get crazy here folks.

Mortimer Peacock said...

I'm afraid it's not an either/or situation at this point Shooter. I love Kovy, he's still my favorite player, but you can't seriously believe that spending the league max on him would be a great thing, surely?

j_barty_party said...

There goes Shooter getting all defensive on me again! ;-)And just when was the last time we won a game in regulation? Hennnnnngh?

Hell, when was the last time we actually won a game in which Kovy scored? What's the point of having the guy if the rest of the team is going to "pucker up" every time they get a golden scoring oppty?

I'm just sayin'.

GoPuckYourself said...

Get rid of Kovy and Joe Johnson, sign LeBron or D-Wade.

Hell yeah.

Big Shooter said...

I never said pay him the max salary.

So far the only thing we all know for a fact is, everything we have heard is complete rumor. The snag could be Kovy wants $10 million and we want 9. Fact is we just don't know.

In 38 games played, Kovy has 47 points and is a -4. I'll say this once more just to be clear. THIS IS THE GUY YOU ARE ALL READY TO SHIP OUT OF TOWN???? Kovy is not the problem here people. The problem is secondary guys. Little had 30 plus goals last year. He has 5 now. White had 73 points last year. He has 3 goals at the moment to go along with a -16. Kozlov had 26 goals last year. He is on pace for 14 this year and for all you +/- lovers out there, he is a -15 at the moment. But you don't hear too many people blasting him for his bad D.

Also, the goaltending has cooled off. We all know how many shots we give up. Not getting the great saves when we need them has really hurt this team.

Kovy takes a lot of heat for his D. Yes, he should take SOME heat. But the fact that it seems like everyone is ready to give up on the guy for spare parts really gets my blood pumping.

Don't worry Speaker, I still have a man crush on you, although apparently not nearly as big of a man crush as Morty has on you!!!

Razor Catch Prey said...

I am going to put on a steel helmet and hide under my desk in the fetal position until Kovy has a contract somewhere and the Thrashers win two games in a row in regulation. Don't expect to see me until next November.

j_barty_party said...

Ha ha! Too funny. You know the feeling is mutual, but y'all still play a collective second fiddle to one Marty Reasoner! :-)

Anyway, no one is saying that Kovy isn't valuable, but when you are the captain, make the most money and get all of the shots on the PP, then you are going to get the most heat. And when you keep saying that you want to stay in Atlanta and you hope to get a deal done, fans are always going to side with management because of the potential for perceived greed.

While I don't think Kovy is a greedy bastard at heart, I am forced to wonder about his level of commitment because this is dragging on so long. Especially when the Kovy I have seen, for the most part, over the last 1.5 months is NOT the same Kovy I watched during the last 3 months of the season last year.

Next year, Slava is out. His money should go to Kovy, or most of it. Yes, we do not know what Kovy has been offered and the ASG has been notoriously cheap. But if they are a million apart, Kovy should be willing to meet in the middle as he stands to be paid handsomely as one of the top 5 richest in the league. I just don't see ASG low-balling him to the tune of $8 or $8.25 M per season when they know Slava is coming off the books.

We're stuck with White, but no one thought he would duplicate last season. In fact, a lot of us here said that he should have been traded when his value was never higher. A bigger problem has been the addition of new parts (Max, Nik, Kane, Schubie etc) to a team that had already discovered chemistry at the end of last year.

Now we are seeing a team that is very much disjointed because they never really gelled as a cohesive unit and then formed bad habits when they were catching teams on off nights in October. The talent and the potential is still there. But a slight change in strategy, along with a signed Kovy, would go a long way in helping this team get to where they want to go. But if they wait too much longer, it won't matter.

They MUST start winning games this week and throughout to make the playoffs. They basically need a record of 21 - 12 - 5 over the last 38 to pull it off. But it won't happen with the specter of Kovy's future hanging over them like it is now.

If we wait till the Olympics, and continue to lose ground, we WILL end up trading him for spare parts. I'd just rather try to work a more sensible deal sooner than later and give ourselves time to make a run as a more conservative, grind-it-out team without Kovy if neccesary. If they haven't figured it out by now, I don't see it happening when Kovy must be having serious doubts about this team.

Thusly, I am more inclined to cut bait now than if were still 5 games over .500 like before. Good Lord, a 5 game winning streak would really help matters, eh??

j_barty_party said...

Throughout January that is. Obviously, they need to win throughout, but if they don't get to say, 25 - 21 - 8 (58 pts) over the next 10, then they are DOA on February 1, 2010. Go on your next "western" swing at .500 and you can forget about it!

Anonymous said...

What do you guys think Kovy is worth in a 10 year deal?

Mortimer Peacock said...

$9 million for the first five years, begin a sliding scale of millions after that.

j_barty_party said...

With a sliding scale, I might be inclined to give him $10 M up front the first year, $9.5 the next 2, $9 M the 2 after that and then a sliding scale downwards to $7 M from there. A total package of $85 M or so oughta do it!

Jay said...

I wonder if $11M buys some defense or is that extra? Quite honestly, I watch other teams when they come into Atlanta and I watch the star players. Everyone I have seen from Ovechkin, Parise, and Thornton all play defense and no one else just hangs around the blueline like Kovy does. It's fine to compare Kovalchuk to White and Kozlov in the +/-, but remember, White and Kozlov aren't the captain who should be leading by example and they aren't asking for $10M+ for 10 years or more. Kozlov is 37 and in his final year in Atlanta while White is probably gone after this year, too.

Big Shooter said...

I realize the captain is the lightning rod when things don't go well (as he should be). And I realize Kovy makes more money (although we have no idea if $11 million is what he is asking) than White or Kozzy.

You also have to realize Kovy is on pace for a 95 point season. I really don't believe his defense is as bad as people make it out to be. I think people are upset there is no contract, and are really complaining about that more so than his actual defensive play. My point in the previous comment was there is all this bitching going on about Kovy, when in reality, he is having a damn fine year (in my opinion) and the guys we count on for secondary scoring haven't gotten the job done. Does Kovy need to improve his defensive abilities, of course he does. I suppose I'm in the minority, but sometimes you will get burned while trying to make an big play on offense. It happens (to everyone). You don't want a stud like Kovalchuk being so concerned about defense that he no longer is the offensive threat he used to be. And no, I don't mean he needs to be cherry picking on every play. Just like with a QB that can throw the long ball, occasionally he will throw the INT. You deal with it an move on.

My point is, I really think people are being short sighted when they say trading Kovy is the right thing to do. Unless we get a MEGA MEGA MEGA return, you cannot replace what he brings to this team.

j_barty_party said...

"Does Kovy need to improve his defensive abilities, of course he does. I suppose I'm in the minority, but sometimes you will get burned while trying to make an big play on offense. It happens (to everyone). You don't want a stud like Kovalchuk being so concerned about defense that he no longer is the offensive threat he used to be."

I agree with most of what you say, but there are so many times, especially since mid-November in which he hasn't even so much as tried to help out on D. He'll be skating figure 8's at the blueline while his team can't get the puck out of the zone waiting for the outlet pass.

Why not dive down to the circle, help out his mates, take the puck and initiate the counter-rush? Yeah, he may not get end to end without using his mates, but he's a great passer when he wants to be. I'm just so beyond frustrated with all of his goals coming on the rush (one and done) and nothing ever coming (very rarely) on sustained pressure / cycle deep in the zone. Plus, he rarely hits anymore and that, to me, smacks of self-preservation a la Hossa in '07 / '08.

Personally I think Kovy has the POTENTIAL to be the greatest player in the world, but even the greatest players add new dimensions to their games as they mature. Kovy seems to be regressing, but I fear its due to his losing confidence in his mates and not because he's simply stubborn and refuses to change.

Mortimer Peacock said...


I don't disagree with your overall assessment of the Czar; there's no denying his awesomeness. The main issue with this team is hardly him; it really IS a lack of secondary scoring and a collapse in goaltending and defense by EVERYONE, not just Kovalchuk. That said, I do think Kovy's defense leaves a lot to be desired. And I think it would be a bad idea to pay him the league max.

And very few people aside from actual lunatics like Mr. Speaker are saying that they would prefer not having him over having him; it's just that as this contract thing drags on it seems more and more likely that *we have no choice* but to trade him. I hope that's not the case, but what exactly are he and his agent waiting for? DW to offer him the league max? Like I said...

Big Shooter said...

Good points there, Speaker. And for the record I am not in favor of paying the league max.

Very good point about the hitting. Kovy is at his best when he hits, in my opinion.

Gotta run bruthas and sistas! And to all a good night.

Razor Catch Prey said...

Do y'all remember Kovy's RFA negotiation five years ago? He held out through training camp, until DW caved in and gave him everything he was asking for after the Thrashers played opening night without him.

Obviously, that is Grossman's MO. Additionally, DW has shown him that it works. Of course he's telling Kovy to hold out as long as humanly possible so he can get the most money possible. That's not to mean that he wouldn't settle for less than the league max later on, but why would Grossman not demand it for as long as possible since he knows DW is prone to give in?

The question is going to be whether or not Kovy eventually says "hey, Jay, let's leave them enough money to sign some decent linemates for me" and whether or not Kovy is willing to call DW's bluff and go somewhere else.

I could even see Kovy allowing himself to be traded at the deadline then reopening negotiations with DW after July 1 and signing just in time for next season.

Remember, Kovy gets paid to play hockey until the end of the season (for whatever team he's playing on at that point). HIS deadline to sign a new deal is October 2010, not March 3.

Jay said...

The Falconer has a new post up with a bunch of the other team blogs and asks them what they would give up for Kovalchuk. Although most of the teams listed are debatable, EVERY ONE of them has pretty much stated that they couldn't resign Kovalchuk if he wanted $9M+. So I have to ask, other than maybe the Kings, who in the world has enough other than Atlanta to give Kovalchuk even $9M and still compete for a playoff spot? The more I think of it, if I was Waddell, I would call his bluff. Don't trade him. Let him play it out. Don't trade his negotiating rights and then come July 1st if he is still unsigned, say "Good Luck, call us when you want your $9M." THERE IS NO ONE ELSE WHO CAN GIVE HIM WHAT THE THRASHERS CAN GIVE HIM OR WILL GIVE HIM. The Rangers are OUT, Blackhawks OUT, Flames OUT, Red Wings OUT, Sharks OUT, you get the picture. It basically would come down to Atlanta and LA.