As we slowly creep upon the new season here in Atlanta, an ominous cloud reminds us of how our franchise looked two years ago. A major superstar is entering his last year of his contract and looking into becoming a UFA.
Now we all know what happened the first time around, but I beg you to see things differently this time. There are some very visual and mental differences between Hossa and Kovalchuk.
First, let's look at the Hossa scenario:
- Hossa never wanted to be here, he signed a deal in Ottawa to be a Senator, only to be traded a few days later here. He never once mentioned this place as his home and came here grudgingly, if that.
- Hossa never bothered to be part of the team. He worked hard to get his stats, drive up his value at the end of his contract and get a big payday (which he really did).
- Hossa didn't think Atlanta was a good hockey market and didn't buy into the team because of that.
- Hossa wouldn't listen to negotiations from the Thrashers, and when his agent did he promptly fired him and replaced him with another agent that has a horrible reputation for being impossible to deal with
- Hossa failed to be a leader. Plain and simple he wouldn't place the teams success before his. Beyond this, when he said he wanted the team to get better he didn't say who, just told management change things and make it better.
Now let's look at Kovalchuck's situation:
- He thinks Atlanta is his home. His family loves it here and he says its the ideal place to have a family.
- He feels tied to the team since he has always played here and was drafted to be on this team.
- When the team needed a leader, he stepped up and, deservedly now wears the "C" on his left shoulder.
- He is actively negotiating to stay with the Thrashers.
- When Kovy said he wanted change, he told the owners specifically what he wanted and they got it. Not to mention he helped recruit at least one player to get him to sign here.
- He straight out said in multiple interviews "I am looking for a reason to stay in Atlanta" and "I want to win the Stanley Cup in Atlanta."
Now, call me crazy if you will, but for some odd reason I think that Kovalchuk wants to stay in Atlanta. Even if we don't sign him before July 1st, he said that he wants to wait around and see what happens. I wish that he would sign before the start of the season, but that might be asking too much.
I see Kovalchuk as a player that sees how much this team wants him, hell, needs him and he can't bring himself to let them down. Take what you want from this but I think by the time he gets back from the Olympics he will have a long term contract signed to keep him a Thrasher for life.