Hours after longtime Los Angeles Times hockey writer Helene Elliott was the first to report the Kings were dropping out of the Ilya Kovalchuk race, some details emerged.
According to a source, the Kings badly want Kovalchuk on their roster, realizing his tremendous skill set is exactly what the team needs.
However, the two sides have reached a contract stalemate. LA GM Dean Lombardi, who emailed: "We took our best shot to meet his needs and the team's" to Elliott earlier in the day, apparently will not jeopardize upcoming contract extensions for Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson.
The source claims Kovalchuk will not budge below a $100 million US contract request.
Kovalchuk's agent, Jay Grossman, said he would stick to his promise of not commenting during the process.
This continues a wild weekend on the Kovalchuk front, with reports of a similar offer from the New York Islanders.
This, of course, does not mean it's all over between the Russian scorer and the Kings.
This could all be a negotiating ploy, hoping the player will budge. It's probably little coincidence that reports indicate Flyers winger Simon Gagne is willing to waive his no-trade clause, although he was given the weekend to think about it.
Lombardi and Kings VP/assistant GM Ron Hextall both have a Philadelphia connection and think highly of Gagne. But, you have to believe that, all things being equal, the Kings would prefer the younger, more explosive, and generally healthier Kovalchuk.
But, it's clear the Kings are frustrated with the negotiating dance. Things change so quickly that it's hard to make predictions, but it sounds like Kovalchuk is down to his last few hours if he wants to play in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, it appears as if he's willing to wait longer than most UFAs would.
All this soap opera needs is a theme song, a Larry Hagman cliffhanger or Jeff Probst voting teams off the island.
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