(Hat tip to Chris in the comments of Juan's article for the phrase "rosterbation." I had to use it again. Also, this was originally the comment I left over there, but Brad peer pressured me into doing it as a counterpoint. Peer pressure's bad, mmmm-kay?)
He has the emotional depth of a dishrag in interviews, and there have been very substantial rumblings of an improved Atlanta locker room atmosphere after he left – there was the well documented Ilya Kovalchuk v. Eric Boulton rumble from season before last that apparently Boulton won. He stepped it up after he was named captain, and then this past season just floated about. The closest he came to leadership was when he treated the goalposts like his own personal pinata after his last game as a Thrasher.
Kovy’s a nice guy. He’s an amazing player. I don’t blame him for wanting out of ATL, though I do blame him for not being more forward with the team and leaving at the start of last season when the return would have been unreal. This whole BS of "do I stay? No, I really want to go, but I’ll make it seem like i’ll stay" hurt the team and killed the locker room. All you have to do is look at the team’s record as the year progressed – when the talks were breaking down in December is when the team went on that ten game spiral. Part of that lies on the coaching staff for not being able to coach through a slump (peace out, John Anderson!) but part of that is the distraction of Kovalchuk. It legitimately hurt the team and shot any playoff chances to hell.
Are the Thrashers better off now that he’s gone? Absolutely. It’s a team, not Ilya Kovalchuk and those other guys that no one knows about outside (or inside) of Atlanta. Players like Bryan Little, Zach Bogosian, Evander Kane, and Niclas Bergfors now have a chance to show what they can do. They would have been better off had Kovalchuk left before last season. It really bothered me to watch the team down here spiral down and out of playoff contention because of one player and his agent. It would absolutely kill me to watch the Blues go through the same thing.
I love this team as is – we have an identity. While we need a high scorer/fan draw kind of player, we don’t need him at the expense of the rough and tumble blue collar team that we have put together. I’ll be damned if I’ll watch him fuck over TJ Oshie, David Backes, and David Perron like he did Zach Bogosian and Evander Kane, even if it is indirectly. I was pissed off at that last season. Words cannot describe how I would feel if that EVER happened in St. Louis. I take (and expect) a lot of BS when it comes to the Thrashers. You do not fuck with my Blues.