It wouldn’t be a complete day in the NHL off-season without some update on what’s going on with Ilya Kovalchuk. While we saw the rumors explode yesterday that Kovalchuk was headed to Los Angeles today to sign with the Kings, only to have them immediately shot down by mostly everyone, he is indeed in LA nonetheless. The LA Kings Insider Rich Hammond gives us the update with what could be looked into with Kovalchuk’s meeting with Kings GM Dean Lombardi in Los Angeles.
I noticed that Dean Lombardi didn’t repeat his very first comment, which was that Kovalchuk was visiting “just like any free agent would.” Well, I’ve been covering Lombardi’s transactions for four years, and this is the first I’ve heard of it. I know, for a fact, that Rob Scuderi didn’t come to L.A. when he signed last summer. So Kovalchuk’s mere presence here would suggest that there’s reason for mutual optimism between the Kings and Kovalchuk, given that they presumably seek to get a deal done, but it’s no slam dunk.
Optimism is a wonderful thing to have. I’m sure that Ilya doesn’t need to be sold on how wonderful southern California can be and the kind of city Los Angeles can be for a superstar that has great success there. Heck, just have him talk to Wayne Gretzky or Magic Johnson or Kobe Bryant. That’s not to say that Rob Scuderi and Ilya Kovalchuk are even on the same planet as far as being a hotly pursued free agent go, however. The one thing about Scuderi and Kovalchuk that you could argue is similar is that they both look like obvious fits for the Kings that need to be addressed.
As for the New Jersey Devils, you know the other team in pursuit of Kovalchuk, Devils GM Lou Lamoriello was asked for an update on how things are going in negotiations and came back with a classic zinger.
Nothing new on the Ilya Kovalchuk front.
“Everything is the same as it was the last three or four days,” general manager Lou Lamoriello said. “I don’t have anything to add to that.”
Lamoriello was asked if he is philosophically against signing a player to a contract 10 years or longer.
“I don’t think philosophically,” he responded.
I don’t think we can blame Lou for being a bit cranky with being asked about Kovalchuk so much, but if it’s going to lead to him landing a position as host of NHL celebrity roasts, I am all for it. That said, if Kovalchuk’s agent Jay Grossman and Kovalchuk himself are looking for a great day to make a news splash signing a contract, especially if it were to be with the Kings (Hollywood and all that), doing it on Wednesday would be ideal. There’s little to nothing sports-wise going on as Major League Baseball is on its All-Star break and the only thing attempting to hog the attention of sports fans will be the supremely lame ESPY Awards. Do it Ilya, grab that spotlight by the ears and yank.