Kovalchuk picked the wrong year for a free agent power play
It's pretty clear, especially if you've been reading
Lombardi has now
Truth is, the Kings can use Kovalchuk, but they can also move forward without him. There are few, if any, other serious bidders. Maybe the New Jersey Devils, but the New York Islanders? Come on. So the market is what the market will bear, and in today's NHL, the market is
That has to be humbling for the Kovalchuk camp, which on Monday put out a notice that he would decide his fate by late that afternoon, only to revise it on Tuesday to "the choices have been narrowed down" and "details are to be finalized." Now Camp Kovalchuk simply isn't saying anything.
As I write this, it's Thursday afternoon and my fingers have nothing new to report. It's hardly a given that any of those supposed "details" will be finalized on Friday, especially if the Kings truly are out of the picture again and the so-called front-running Devils have the market pretty much to themselves and the KHL.
Having grossly misread the market, Kovalchuk's options now appear to be:
It was the same tough going, albeit on a lesser scale, for
Nabokov, considered the best goaltender on the market, waited a week after being let go by the San Jose Sharks and finally opted for a deal in Russia. The decision didn't come easy, but given what was on the table -- a possible low-ball offer from the Philadelphia Flyers and, perhaps, an even lower-ball offer to re-sign with the Sharks and share playing time with the lesser-priced (and less experienced)
Bluffs come from all directions in the free agent market, and while Nabokov undoubtedly has come to terms with SKA St. Petersburg, nothing is a given. Players have been known to jump contracts or agreements on both sides of the NHL-KHL divide, and even though the two leagues claim to have reached some compromises in accepting each other's deals with players, their agreement has never been tested in court.
It's not likely that Nabokov will back out now or at any point this summer, but the option is likely still there. Despite arguments to the contrary, the KHL doesn't provide the same kind of lifestyle one finds in the NHL and especially in San Jose. Nabokov isn't just moving on his own. If he goes, he has to take his family or leave them behind for an entire season or more. That doesn't sit well with a lot of players, especially when their families have been settled in one place for a very long time. (Nabokov played for the Sharks for 10 years.)
Nabokov is an excellent goalie -- better than many starters in the NHL today -- but he, too, has been caught in a price squeeze. His is a "signing" that bears watching.
If Nabokov does honor his KHL agreement, it would seem that
Despite the spin that San Jose gave his signing, Nittymaki is not a proven playoff performer. He's not even a proven No.1 in regular season play. The Sharks haven't broken up their team with an eye to rebuilding, they are still attempting to go farther than they did in last spring's playoffs and will need some help in net to realize their goal. More than a few teams can say the same. Turco can fit that bill.
Remember a few years back when the NBA took its All-Star Game to Las Vegas and, after a weekend that some described as both decadent
I do, and it got me wondering. The NHL isn't always in the forefront of cutting edge thinking, but it did borrow the NBA idea of going "off campus," so to speak, when it hooked up with Sin City to bring the annual awards show there. Sure, it was off the Strip and the celebrities made
So imagine the NHL next borrowing a page from the
Of course, by now most people -- including, and perhaps especially, basketball fans -- are sick of the whole
I can see it all now. The camera is tight on green felt. As it pulls back, we see a poker room and the Vegas scene is set. In one seat is the King --
Across from them all is Kovalchuk, tricked out as the top prize in the kind of free-agent frenzy normally reserved for the family section of
"But he's not the only one at risk. So is his agent. If
"If that's not enough drama, the winning bidder is also at risk. His franchise is surely playing with money it doesn't have, at least not for the length of term that Mr. Kovalchuk is demanding. The prospect of the salary cap dropping is very real. The winning GM could lose big if Mr. Kovalchuk gets hurt or his new contract upsets the team's salary structure, its ability to sign future free agents, or pay its rising stars. Now...let the bidding begin!"
Now, tell me that's not a high-stakes game and I'll tell you that you've obviously never been in Vegas. This is clearly a scenario that would bring in the coveted 18-34 year-old demographic of sports fans looking to place on-line bets at Hockey Loves Poker.com. And that would only be Day One.
Subsequent shows could see players and GMs leaving the Palmhimoff Room as the camera crew moves to, say, Circus Circus where stationed among the animal acts, aerial artists and short-track roller coaster fans we find
Truth be told, it would be fun to figure out who actually is the winner in this showdown: the one who gets to play in Russia or the one who doesn't. Heck,
So, thanks, NBA. Your version of
"Being able to pick up two free agents like that at reasonable prices in the market, I think, is going to be huge for our team," Iginla said.
It was a nice gesture on Iginla's part, but it would have had a whole lot more meaning if the captain had ever gone on record
It's not an easy thing to publically go against management, especially in Calgary, but seemingly every time the Flames make a controversial move, they drag out Iginla to either endorse it or go on record as having lobbied for it. Old school management says that managers manage and players play, and the Flames are definitely old school except when it comes to having Iginla take the heat off them.
If the Flames were true to the old school ways, they would have Iginla and the other key components of the team speak honestly behind closed doors and leave it at that. Setting up a player who never says no -- at least not in public -- does neither Iginla nor the Flames any good.
Then again "huge" doesn't necessarily mean "good." Maybe there's a message there after all.