After the New York Islanders' interest and potential offer were leaked on Friday, the Los Angeles Kings have now gone public with their stance on Kovalchuk and it's a shocker: GM Dean Lombardi tells the Los Angeles Times that they're out.
Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi said Sunday afternoon that the high-scoring free agent decided against joining the Kings, who had targeted him as the productive winger they urgently need and a marquee player who might generate some buzz around town.
"We took our best shot to meet his needs and the team's," Lombardi said in an email. He would not elaborate on where the Kings' offer fell short or where Kovalchuk might be headed.
According to sources, the Los Angeles Kings were the most active suitor for Kovalchuk on deadline day. The New Jersey Devils, with whom Kovlachuk ended the season, have been in the hunt for the unrestricted free-agent star since the start of the Frenzy. GM/Devils Overlord Lou Lamoriello has said the team will create salary cap space if Kovalchuk chooses to remain in the Garden State.
(The Islanders' interest is more difficult to gauge; Friday's report on their offer caused a stir, but Devils beat writer Tom Gulitti reported there never was a specific offer issued by the team.)
If Kovalchuk rejected the team's offer, are the Kings out? Hard to imagine they are when they're one of the few teams with the resources, the need and the desire to sign Kovalchuk, whose serious suitors are limited.
To place the tin foil hat on for a moment, this public declaration of an impasse also arrives two days after the news that another left wing, Simon Gagne(notes), could be headed to LA. Is this all of this public pressure coincidental at this point in the negotiations? No way.
Unless, of course, Kovalchuk really has decided he doesn't love LA. Somewhere, Randy Newman weeps.