Jay Grossman gave an interview to New Jersey Devils Hockey News that we found quite interesting. Let’s take a look at the highlights.
GROSSMAN: “It started with Atlanta on July 1st (of last year) when they could begin negotiating with us. We went through a long, long process with them. It did not end up being one where the two sides could (come to an agreement), but again, they moved on and we moved on. And then (Ilya) got the chance to come here (to New Jersey) and see what it was all about.”
Couldn’t come to an agreement on what? Length? They offered 10 years. The team? Did you expect the team to be competitive with a $10 million dollar cap hit? Did he want more money? Well, let’s see what Don Waddell had to say about this on ajc.
Q. It’s just after the trade, but do you look back and say there is something you could have done differently?
A. No. Obviously as we found out, it was all about money. We built a team that Kovy liked. We knew Kovy wanted to stay for the rest of his career if he could, but when you start looking at trying to sign a player to that kind of contract, I’ve said already tell me which one of our young players do you want me to trade [Evander] Kane or [Zach] Bogosian because there is no way you’ll be able to afford these players going forward. It’s a cap system. If it wasn’t a cap system you could take a different approach. When you are trying to build a team in this system, look around the league there are examples where it didn’t work out real well, you need to have 23 players on the same page. In this case, if you are going to pay max amount of money for one player, it’s really going to limit you what you can do with the rest of your team.
So, Ilya wanted more money, specifically the league max. Interesting. Keep reading.
GROSSMAN: “He’s one that takes it all in, understands it and he was always in his mind committed to going to July 1, to see what was out there. He had a lot of compelling options. The difficulty at times was that they were so different. All of what was being presented to us was so drastically different including the proposal that we received from the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League). And in the end, I think, he wanted it all out in front of him and as he said at the press conference be able to sit down with his family and then he after having gone out and seeing what was out there he came full circle and felt this was the place for him.”
At first reading, you are not sure what was “different” but when you look at the second bolded section, you see Grossman is actually talking about the “proposal”. Not the cities, teams, and so forth but the terms offered…in other words, length of contract and money!
GROSSMAN: He was asked how close Kovalchuk was to being a Los Angeles King. “Not close enough. They were not the only organization that showed interest. We had a number of organizations that did. I will say that Los Angeles made an extremely big push given all they had to offer from their organization and there were a lot of people that were strutted out and the option to play for the Kings is a very enticing one. There’s no question.”
Notice the sarcastic remark that precedes the defensive follow up sentence. “Not close enough” is snippy. “Q: How close were you?” A: “Not close enough.” That is another way of saying Lombardi wouldn’t budge and it pissed Grossman off. He then jumps into a subject nonresponsive to the question asked, specifically that the Kings were not the only other suitor. Why the coy generalities without telling us who the other teams were? Because…there…were…no other serious ones? The next word that stuck out at me was “strutted”, as if to imply the Kings were putting on a show. This screams Leiweke. The world class schmoozer no doubt thought he could impress Kovalchuk with the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles. The word “strut” though implies Grossman wasn’t impressed. It’s a little of the New York v. Los Angeles personalities at play here. Other previous quotes indicate that, quite frankly, Grossman and Dean didn’t click. Notice also that he says (after signing with the Devils) that the option to play for the Kings is a very enticing one…present tense…Freudian slip? Bah, silly.
GROSSMAN: Regarding whether Grossman pushed him one way or another, “What I wanted him to do was completely irrelevant. I was committed to him whatever decision he was going to make that I was gonna be unconditionally supportive of that decision one way or another. I gave him my opinion on certain things, but it was his decision; some of which he shared with me, but there were so many considerations that I don’t even think that at the end we could go through one of the points. We went through a lot of but they were so drastically different options that there was just a lot to sort through for sure.”
Really? Come on. You let Kovalchuk make the decisions and did nothing more than give him your opinion on certain things. Ok…let’s keep reading…
GROSSMAN: Talking about Lou Lamoriello, “Lou is the ultimate professional. I think he pulled a few tricks out of his Providence College recruiting bag. He was amazing. He was unbelievable. He always called at the right time. He always said the right things. He was respectful of Ilya’s space. His ability to go out there and make a choice. He didn’t ever get ruffled by that. And in the end, in my view, he showed that from all the people in hockey, he showed that he had Ilya’s best interests in mind.”
Yeah, I hear Lou was at the top of his class on “Advanced Circumvention – Contract Fiction.” My personal favorite though is…
GROSSMAN: Regarding getting the most money, Grossman claims that “was never our objective. Obviously we knew that the end result was always going to put Ilya in a good position financially, so the end result was never about that as much as it was sorting through the different choices and, again, I want to emphasize that they were so drastically different. That’s something I’ve never really dealt with. In this case the offers, the proposals and the discussions were so compelling that I wish we could have said yes to all of them — including the dollars by the way.”
Pause. Rewind. What? That was never your and Kovalchuk’s objective? Waddell claims Ilya left solely because he wanted the league max. That means it’s all about the money. Los Angeles offered $80 million and Ilya said no. Why? Not close enough he tells us…to what? Money. Most importantly, if it wasn’t about the money, then why put New Jersey into a position to offer $102 million over 17 years in a contract the league warned the Devils would run afoul of the CBA? Because if it wasn’t about the money and he really wanted to play in New Jersey for another reason, then why not allow New Jersey to fit Ilya within their cap without breaking the rules? You know, akin to a contract that Los Angeles offered? Was that in his client’s best interest if money was never Kovalchuk’s objective? No. It was all about the money, from day 1, through today and going forward.
GROSSMAN: He said Kovalchuk knew he was going to sign with the Devils on July 17.
Well, Grossman’s client disagrees with him. Kovalchuk was quoted as saying he, looking back, didn’t see himself playing for any team other than New Jersey. Of course, if that is true, then why wait 17 days to make a decision? Better yet, if he wanted to play in New Jersey all along and money was never a consideration, why the hell would the process even take 17 days? Could it be that Grossman is full of crap? Maybe. You decide.