[this is not an update; I'm reposting this item from day 14 because of its sudden relevance to the crumbling psychologies of Kings fans everywhere... "enjoy"!]
Note to Kings' Mgmt:
If it turns out that there is no deal because Ilya Kovalchuk wouldn't come down to a realistic cap hit (I'm going to call under $8MM realistic), then I think most Kings fans will see that the imagined Kovalchuk they coveted and the real Kovalchuk were in fact very different and that no deal was ever really possible. And I will only be disappointed that the other Kovalchuk, the one who wanted to be here and wanted to win and was willing to take a salary that would not destroy the team, did not exist.
However, if it turns out that there is no deal because Kings management would not offer anything north of, say, $7MM (cap hit), I would ask you to consider the psychological toll this news will take on Kings fans, not because of yet another failure to land the big fish (which will be painful), or because Kings fans have been conditioned to expect the rug to be pulled out from under them (which they have), or because "almost" is the Kings' middle name (which it is), but because you (and by you I mean everyone, AEG, Kovalchuk, Grossman, ESPN, Twitter...) let this drag on for 14 days.
And that's not 14 days of silence, either, or fourteen days of checking the mailbox for the letter that still hasn't come. Fourteen days of "allllllllmost, just a leeeeeetle bit longer, end of the day, soooooon, he's coming, he's almost here, he's here, he's eating, he's touring, he's talking to Dustin, oooh he's humble and he wants to win!" The Cuban Missile Crisis only took 14 days to resolve.
Think of the Kings fanbase as having the sports-equivalent of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from 43 years of almost. Now imagine that every little reminder of past trauma brings the full force of the previous trauma crashing into the present. And you've been subjecting your paying customers to this for hundreds of hours on end.
Hundreds of hours of this.
It's not management's fault the system is like this, or that sports fans are obsessive or insane or on the wrong medications (however, on the message boards, some of these same ecstatic fans report having ordered season tickets this week), or that irresponsible or manipulative agents and/or members of the press or blogosphere (etc.) have an interest in spreading a thick layer of tantalizing disinformation all over everything. But I wonder to what degree it would be worth it to consider spending an extra one million dollars per year as compensation to your fans for the singular (in fact, historic) magnitude of this never-ending torture, now amplified by the cross-country visits and the approving quotes from Kings players, all of which appear to be designed to lure back into the fold all of the exhausted saps who have taken public vows of abstinence from the whole topic of Kovalchuk. Cruel is not too strong a word for it. It's not anyone's intent, but that's the effect.
(You should probably increase your offer if only to offset the amount of lost productivity among the fan-base, which has been considerable. Multiply 80 hours of work -- two weeks -- times the thousands of obsessed F5 refreshers; how many lost man-hours is that? More than 100,000? I'm thinking, yes.*)
And you have to know, at this point, no matter what the outcome, the story of this fiasco will be legendary. I've been following hockey for 40 years, and I've never seen anything like it. I don't think it's hyperbole to say that this will be a cultural point of reference for every Kings fan who went through it. And there are only a couple of people on the planet who can make it a great day, a great story, for Kings fans, and not another version of McSorley's stick.
*I have no idea what the average wage of the obsessive Kings fan is. But if you figure 1000 people wasting 80 hours at $10/hr ($20,000/yr), that's $800,000 for every 10 bucks an hour ($20,000/yr) you think the average Kings fan makes. I'm going to go with $60,000/yr, for $2.4MM in lost productivity so far. Obviously, some of these people got SOMETHING done over the last two weeks. Not me, but someone probably did.