Scheduled to air tonight on ESPN was supposed to be “The Decision – Ilya Kovalchuk edition”. Unfortunately, ESPN was forced to cancel the show and instead aired the world archery qualifiers. Priorities, I guess. The interview transcript leaked out and we at ProSportsBlogging managed to get our hands on the interview.
Hello Ilya, thanks for doing this. First off; what made you want to do this interview?
Kovalchuk: “Well I saw LeBron James do it, so I thought it would be a good idea. I’m a big fan of his – I’ve actually watched all of his playoff games since I’m never busy and have plenty of free time in April, May and June.
Many have speculated that you received many lucrative offers from the KHL; why didn’t you want to go there?
Kovalchuk: “The problem with the KHL is that aside from maybe 1 good player on every team, the rest are all third and fourth line guys. I want to play for an NHL team.”
And you had no interest in playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs?
Kovalchuk: “What did I just say?”
It’s well known that the Salary Cap limited your options. Were there any teams you would have liked to meet with?
Kovalchuk: “There were 2. I was thinking about meeting with the Washington Capitals, but I’m a loyal guy, especially to fellow Russians – and I knew if I met with them, that the Capitals would have been forced to give themselves a vasectomy by getting rid of Semin.”
And who was the other team?
Kovalchuk: “Well, most people don’t know this but I really wanted to play for Calagry. I would have accepted the league minimum to play for that team. But when my agent called Darryl Sutter, the response was something along the lines of “Ilya is a great skater, a big scorer, and in the prime of his career” and “he’s not our type”. “
We know you still met with quite a few teams. Were there any that weren’t very positive?
Kovalchuk: “I did meet with the Ottawa Senators, but I left right away because Bryan Murray was very rude to me and spit in my face. My agent explained later that he was just trying to pronounce my name, but the damage was already done.“
When LeBron James did this same thing, we showed him a clip of his old jersey being burned. How does it feel, knowing that people in Atlanta are doing the same thing to you?
Kovalchuk: “In my defense, most people in Atlanta are just casual hockey fans who rarely go to games; so most of them that are setting my jersey on fire are doing it because they think the team is still called the Atlanta Flames”
Before we ask the big question – who else knows your decision?
Kovalchuk: “My agent and wife know; and Gary Bettman asked me as a favor to announce my decision on live TV in Phoenix, which I just finished doing; so I guess the answer to your question is that at least few dozen people know.”
Alright Ilya – what is your decision? Where will you be playing next year?
Kovalchuk: “I’ll be taking my talents to Venice Beach, and suit up for the LA Kings next year. It was a tough process with many attempts to come to a solution and fix the problems we were having. We tried and tried and tried, and eventually, like the CEO of BP says, “17th time is a charm”, and we got it done.“ I would like to mention that the New Jersey Devils and I were very close, but after watching Spain win a dreadfully boring World Cup by a score of 1-0 with 19 shots on goal, I knew playing for the Devils wasn’t for me.”
About the Author
Written by Corey Krakower
I am the Director of NHL Content & Habs writer for ProSportsBlogging.com; I have spent 8 seasons behind the bench as a minor hockey coach; and I am the future GM of the Montreal Canadiens (according to my mom). I spend my days managing the Harrow Sports brand in my hometown of Montreal and I moonlight as a Hockey Advisor for Pi Athlete Management. Most importantly, I'll throw anyone under the bus for a laugh.