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Author: Pavel Lysenkov (Soviet Sport Newspaper)
Translated By: RussianProspects
Date: 08/22/2004
Ilya Kovalchuk signs with Ak Bars (Russia 1)

According to the Soviet Sports newspaper Atlanta Thrashers forward Ilya Kovalchuk signed a deal with Russian Super League (Russia 1) club Ak Bars in the case a lockout occurs in the NHL. The deal would cease as soon as the NHL lockout concludes.

Ilya Kovalchuk had the following to say to the Soviet Sports correspondent: “Thank you for congratulating me [with the deal – RussianProspects]. I flew to Kazan a few days ago and have been left with a good impression of the city. It’s green, beautiful and is very similar to Moscow. Ak Bars plays in a very nice arena, and the management does everything to give the team the opportunity to win the gold medals. My friend Alexei Morozov plays in Kazan, as well as Denis Arkhipov and Dmitri Bykov....Of course, all of these circumstances influenced my decision to sign with Ak Bars. Where will I live? The club promised me a corporate apartment. “

Kovalchuk’s agent Ilya Moliver (Jay Grossman’s representative in Russia) commented the following regarding the contract: “After serious negotiations, we reached a deal with Ak Bars. If certain conditions, which I do not see any reason to discuss, are met, Kovalchuk will be able to return to his NHL club in Atlanta. Ak Bars general manager Viktor Levitsky deserves a lot of the credit for making this deal take place. He demonstrated the attention to detail and flexibility that make a true manager. Which other clubs contended for Kovalchuk’s services? I don’t want to name all the options, but we were in negotiations with five teams. What is the worth of his contract? We do not have the right to disclose this information. However, Ilya signed a deserving agreement. Also, not everything has to do with money. Ak Bars has a very good infrastructure. Their locker rooms are on part with the NHL. This is one of the elite Russian clubs with a rich tradition and a strong motivation, as the city of Kazan will turn 1000 years and the club wants to bring happiness to it’s inhabitants.

Ak Bars general manager Viktor Levitsky said the following: “The negotiations with Kovalchuk’s representatives went on until the end of July. Then Ilya visited Kazan. We showed him around the city. He liked everything and soon after we signed an agreement. The extent of the agreement is one year. I see the possibility that Kovalchuk will leave for the NHL in the middle of the season as sleep. Who will Ilya play with on the line? I can’t answer that questions, as that is the prerogative of the club’s head coach. Kovalchuk will arrive in Kazan right after the World Cup.

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