Kings' fans were disappointed that Ilya Kovalchuk didn't sign with the team, but should they boo him? Nay, friends. Nay.
Dear Kings Fans,
Hi, Rudy Kelly here. You may be remember me from such speeches as, "Detroit Red Wings: Our Nation's Scourge," and "Boy That Randy Jones Sure Sucks, Huh?" I'm here today to talk about a certain left winger you may all be familiar with: Ilya Kovalchuk. (Murmurs and hisses scatter through the audience) Now now, no need to boo. And who's the guy that whistled? Tell that Euro to get out of here!
Ilya Kovalchuk did not spurn the Los Angeles Kings. He did not play them for saps, he did not leverage their offer, he did not wipe his mouth with Luc Robitaille's tie. Ilya Kovalchuk was offered $102 million to sign with the New Jersey Devils. The Kings offered him $80 million. He chose the team that offered him $22 million more. Here's a short list of what you can buy with $22 million dollars:
That's $22 miiillllliiiion dollars. I'd consider myself one of the more loyal Los Angelenos you'll find but I'd urinate on the Hollywood sign and punch Vin Scully in the face for $22 million dollars. That's not even a comparable offer: one's nice enough and the other is
in violation of the CBA beyond your wildest dreams. I think Kovalchuk's actions over the summer showed that if he had gotten equal offers, he'd have chosen Los Angeles; the thing was, he didn't, so he stayed in New Jersey.
I know we were all disappointed when Kovalchuk did sign with New Jersey, but some folks have gone overboard. Some folks are white-knuckled with rage, denouncing Kovalchuk from rooftops while languishing in the Devils' recent misfortune. Some are even planning on booing Ilya Kovalchuk in tonight's game. Friends, that is the wrong tack to take. Booing Kovalchuk would only reinforce in Kovalchuk's mind all the reasons he chose not to come to Los Angeles and the fans themselves would only be eating sour grapes. It would be tactless and only poison the atmosphere of the game.
Yes, the deal Kovalchuk signed in New Jersey did end up violating the CBA and he was forced to sign a new one. Yes, Kovalchuk's team may be in last place and yes, Kovalchuk may have been benched recently for missing a team meeting. These are all bad things and in retrospect Kovalchuk may have made a poor decision. But that only serves to prove that Kovalchuk is human. If you cut him, does he not bleed? If you score on him, does he not curse? If you take the puck into his zone, does he not backcheck? ...Wait, he doesn't do that one. He does the other ones though.
Now, some of you may be wondering: 'Can't I at least laugh at the Devils as a whole?' Sure! Go nuts! No one enjoys laughing at other teams more than me. Watch: the Anaheim Ducks. Hahahahaha, good one. Call Martin Brodeur fat and Jamie Langenbrunner a baby. But singling out one player who never did anything to someone on the ice and then booing him viciously is ridiculous and dare I say childish.
The time has come to let go of the past. The Kings are the best team in the league at the moment and they've done that without their best player. I still wish the Kings had signed Kovalchuk but I don't see the point in childishly placing the blame of that shattered fantasy at Kovalchuk's feet. Let's just enjoy the team we have, not the team we almost had. Who's with me?
No? Alright fine, do whatever you want. ...big babies.