The Reason Ilya Kovalchuk Passed on $101 Million

John BradleyContributor IFebruary 4, 2010

ATLANTA - JANUARY 12:  Ilya Kovalchuk #17 of the Atlanta Thrashers against the Ottawa Senators at Philips Arena on January 12, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Thrashers GM Don Waddell stated today that contract negotiations with Ilya Kovalchuk have come to an impasse, despite offerings of $101 million over 12 years and $70 million over seven years. 

Hold on.  What? 

Either contract would have made Kovalchuk one of the highest paid players in NHL history!  When a man rejects $101 million dollars to play hockey, it leaves me with many questions, some as to his sanity, but moreso to his mindset. 

What is this guy thinking? 

I have narrowed it down to four possible scenarios.  It is guaranteed that one of these following scenarios are the real reason behind Ilya Kovalchuk's surprising rejections:

Scenario #1:  Kovalchuk wants more money.   This is the answer, if you take the story at face value.  Ilya Kovalchuk truly believes his talent is worth more than what is being offered, and some team in the NHL is willing to give it to him.  It's easy to snipe a player as greedy for commanding top dollar, but after all, the NHL is a business.  Perhaps, Kovy wants his own NHL franchise someday, or he has a legion of illegitimate children that need support.

Scenario #2:  Kovalchuk really doesn't want to be a Thrasher anymore.  Although he has never explicitly stated it, one only has to glance at the situation.  Atlanta has only one playoff appearance in team history, a 4-0 sweep from the Rangers in the first round.  Can you really fault the guy for wanting to test another organization with his next big contract?  Maybe Kovalchuk is tired of being the only consistent bright light in an otherwise troubled franchise.  The team is currently only one point out of a playoff spot, but would they really get very far in the postseason against the Washingtons and Pittsburghs of the East?

Scenario #3:  Kovalchuk is thinking KHL sooner than later.  The issue with the contract isn't money, but term length.  Waddell mentioned contracts of seven and 12 years.  Perhaps Kovalchuk wants something less, as he is planning to make a break for the KHL in the near future.  The KHL has become a viable alternative for many talented hockey players.  He would still get paid millions to play competitive hockey and live closer to family.  Can you really blame him for that?

Scenario #4:  Kovalchuk and Don Waddell are in cahoots on one of the greatest NHL schemes of all-time.  This is the scenario Thrasher's fans are hoping for.  So, one night in a dark alley, Kovalchuk and Waddell meet and hatch out a plan that will bring valuable assets to the Atlanta Thrashers:  Waddell tells Kovalchuk he will create an over-hyped sweepstakes for him around the trade deadline.  Kovalchuk agrees to "reject" two large contracts to make it appear there is no chance of ever signing again with the Thrashers.  Waddell says he will then be traded to the team that offers the best package, where Kovalchuk is to go and play timid hockey to keep from hurting himself.  When summer comes and Ilya Kovalchuk becomes an unrestricted free agent, he will join the new additions in Atlanta for a team-friendly salary to start the 2010 NHL season. 


In the words of A Tribe Called Quest:  So what, so what, so what's the scenario?  Please cast your vote above.