Ilya Kovalchuk got more than $100 million out of the New Jersey Devils, and he got a $5 cup of coffee out of Terry Murray. In case you haven’t heard, Kovalchuk — who comes to town with the Devils tonight — was pursued by the Kings this summer, a month-long dirge that included the hockey equivalent of a recruiting trip in Los Angeles. It’s widely expected that Kovalchuk will get a negative response tonight — although you will be the determining factor in that — but somewhat surprisingly, Murray said he didn’t think Kovalchuk would get much of a reaction tonight.
MURRAY: “I don’t think anybody knows about it around here, quite honestly. A few of the players know. Brownie and Greener picked him up downtown and took him out to dinner one night, but that’s the extent of it. I went out and had a cup of coffee with him — I had to buy it — so that was the extent of his time around here. He’s a player on the New Jersey Devils. We have awareness to him. He’s a great player. He has had an impact on a lot of games in his career, so we’ve just got to be ready to play against the New Jersey Devils tonight.”
So the Kings have a theme tonight: win one for Terry’s wallet… Later, Murray gave an honest assessment when asked if, during the summer, he ever allowed his mind to wander and think about what it would be like to write Kovalchuk’s name on his lineup card every game…
MURRAY: “Oh sure, I did. And I’ve had those guys. I had Pavel Bure, who put 57 goals up for me in Florida. I had Lindros in Philly, who was MVP of the league. I’ve had these players who are impact players, and they’re nice to have. And if they’re all on-page and playing the right way and playing the team game, then it’s outstanding to have those guys, because they do determine your season and your playoffs. They do make a difference, all the way through. I would love to have Kovalchuk. I’m not going to kid anybody. Again, he’s a great player. It just didn’t work out that way. He’s a member of the Devils and we’re playing them tonight, and we’ve got to play hard against them.”