I sent the following email to Ilya Kovalchuk’s agent, Jay Grossman, this morning. I have no illusions that it assures any impact on the events in motion. Perhaps it was written as much for my fellow fans as it was for he and his client.
I write to you about your coveted client, Ilya Kovalchuk. For two seasons, we closely watched with wanting eyes as he neared the end of his contract and with the anticipation that he would soon don a Kings’ jersey and complement our considerable existing talent on the road to the Stanley Cup Finals. We did not expect him at the trade deadline. We knew the asking price would be too high. We contemplated his arrival on or after July 1, one that would accompany a prosperous contract that ensured he and his family’s security with salary cap terms consistent for any team that intended to pursue and obtain the Stanley Cup not just for one season but many more thereafter. It is the latter image in which the Kings have been built.
We have heard that Ilya Kovalchuk wants to win. The Kings are the darling of the Western Conference. They are rightly touted as the greatest group of young talent in the league with veteran leadership ready to catapult them through the playoffs. What they lack is accessible in the market place. What they possess has taken years of patience and discipline to build.
We have heard that Ilya Kovalchuk wishes to have security for his family. Wayne Gretzky called Los Angeles home when he came here. He chose L.A. He still does today. Los Angeles, its select beach cities and suburbs provide an unparalleled level of luxury, quality of life and privacy in the states.
We have read the various rumored contracts offered by other NHL teams as well as the KHL. I suppose many things in life, as in sports, come down to money and if one were so inclined to eliminate or devalue other factors from life’s equation then only a fool would turn down $10 million for an offer millions less. However, it is precisely those other factors that present what solely a financial consideration cannot. Money cannot buy the exhilaration of winning. It secures no legacy. It does not assure the pride that accompanies knowing one not only excelled at his craft but was able to become the best because he placed winning and that legacy above all else. It is how heroes are made in today’s world. It is how respect is earned. It is why many decades after one has stopped playing the sport, they are still remembered as iconic figures among their peers and fans.
Wayne Gretzky said to Kings’ General Manager Dean Lombardi shortly after Dean accepted the position that when you win in Los Angeles, there is nothing that compares to it. Winning here is unlike winning anywhere else. The Los Angeles Kings are poised to ascend to the top of the NHL now. They are built to win. Ilya Kovalchuk is a generational talent but he cannot become a champion in this league by himself. He can and will be so in Los Angeles if he chooses us as we have chosen him. It is my hope that your client takes more than fiscal means to his intended end. Life rarely comes with second chances. Moments like these are defined by choices.”