Last month, I joked about how someone could write a book about this Ilya Kovalchuk mess. Now, it almost seems like a certainty, doesn’t it? This afternoon, the arbitrator has ruled in favor of the NHL and declared Kovalchuk a free agent again.
I had a quick chat with a member of team management today, and my inquiry as to whether the Kings would consider making another offer to Kovalchuk, should he come a free agent again, was met with a quick and stern, “Are you kidding?” Well, I was half-joking… Since July 1, it’s been prudent to be in the “Believe it when you see it” camp when it comes to this story, so that’s where I’ll remain, but it seems that the Kings are exploring another avenues, for both forwards and defensemen. What are they? All I got was a cryptic, “We’re working on some things.” It wouldn’t be surprising to see something happen at any time, but hopefully it won’t be tomorrow, as I’ll be out of range for half of the day… It seems clear that the Kings’ next move will be a trade, not a signing, and that they recognize the need to make a move soon in order to improve the team.
As for Kovalchuk, it seems natural to me — although it’s just a semi-educated guess — that he will end up signing a one-year contract, either in the NHL or KHL, and climb back on this merry-go-round 11 months from now. Dean Lombardi already got burned on this once, by putting all of his eggs in the Kovalchuk basket.
Life got more complicated when Matt Greene went under the knife, because while it was plausible for the Kings to add one untested young defenseman to the lineup (Voynov, Hickey, Muzzin, etc.) it’s hard to imagine they would press their luck and try for two, even if only for the first month of the season. I’m told there’s some consternation, on management’s part, that Greene’s injury was not discovered until mid-July, although that begs a question. In a sport in which players so often try to push through injuries, shouldn’t teams request/demand (to the extent that it’s possible within the CBA) some type of end-of-season medical evaluation?
Finally, the Kings today announced that tickets for the home opener (Oct. 12 against Atlanta) will go on sale on Thursday through LAKings.com and 1-888-KINGS-LA. Other single-game tickets will go on sale Sept. 9. Tickets to the two preseason games at Staples Center (Sept. 23 and 28) also go on sale Thursday. It seems as though it’s been a good summer, revenue-wise. The team said that it has a 96-percent renewal rate on season seats from last year and that the Kings are expecting record numbers in terms of season tickets and overall ticket sales. Are you joining in, or waiting to see what happens in the next two months?