PuckDaddy- Shero glanced down at the text message. Someone was inquiring about a rumor they had heard: That Shero, the Devils’ general manager, had been offered a first-round draft pick from the New York Rangers in exchange for Kovalchuk, and that Shero turned them down.
“That was a lie,” said Shero on Thursday.
“I never turned down a first-round pick. I never turned down a seventh-round pick. I never turned down anything. Why? It’s really simple: There was nothing to turn down.”
“It wasn’t my job to negotiate a contract with Kovalchuk,” said Shero, “and I can’t trade the guy unless he’s got a deal somewhere.”
As July 1 approached, Kovalchuk didn’t have a concrete offer from another team. But Grossman had enough interest from three teams to take these potential matches back to Shero in the hopes that they could transition from contractual discussions to the compensation talks.
Shero reached out to all three in the last week. All three determined they weren’t in on Kovalchuk.
One team was a definite “no.” Another team had something cooking with Grossman, but never circled back to Shero.
The last team traded a few text messages with Shero, before informing the Devils general manager that there were other areas of need they wanted to address ahead of adding Kovalchuk. They were going to circle back with Grossman, but Shero said they never did.
So the market for Kovalchuk had become the Sahara.
“I was never presented a deal,” Shero said.
“Get a contract with the team. Then that general manager calls New Jersey. That’s all that had to happen. And it never did,” said Shero. “So that’s the end of the story.”
Alternate Headline: 'HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA'
Picture it this way, and - please - take a deep breath prior. Ilya Kovalchuk made himself available for auction to the entire NHL, didn't get one single professional team to raise their proverbial paddle, and had to get bought back by the "original seller" (the KHL) to save face.
Now, should we be absolutely stunned that a 34 year old flight risk that is four years removed from the highest level of hockey and was reported asking for a long(ish) term deal at a cap hit that would make the most open minded of General Manager choke on their chicken salad didn't garner interest?
Does the wacky, desperate shit that teams tend to do in hopes of improving their roster during free agency leave me a bit a surprised that the entire NHL treated Ilya Kovalchuk's outcasted ass like he was the smelly kid in class?
Slightly, but boy is it nothing shot of hilarious that they did.
The news that Ilya Kovalchuk had to head back to the homeland with his tail between his legs makes me smile equally as obnoxiously as him potentially getting shipped anywhere stateside for a second round pick. You can me petty or spiteful, but knowing that Ray Shero was sitting on his hands because the rest of his peers were treating a selfish, greedy, overly presumptuous athlete like they walked in on him with his thumb in his ass during office hours brings me an endless amount of joy. It would have been delightful to receive some reparations for the player that acted like a middle schooler at sleep away camp by using "homesickness" as an excuse to go swim in a pool full of rubles in Eastern Europe. However, getting to watch one of the most self centered athletes in all of sports get humbled - if only temporarily - is quite the fucking consolation prize.
I said yesterday that I would rather New Jersey Devils miss out on a middling asset than be made to look like assholes, and little did I know that the person who should really feel like an asshole is the 400 goal scorer that couldn't even achieve asset status. Either way, the ongoing, tumultuous "relationship" between Ilya Kovalchuk and his former team has finally faded to black, and - amazingly - it's not the organization that gave him a 15 year fucking contract that is staring off into space while sitting alone at the negotiating table.