By Igor Kleyner
Photo credit: Jared Wickerham
Pavel Lysenkov of Sovetsky Sport spoke with Mikhail Grabovski’s agent, Garry Greenstin, about his client’s signing with the Washington Capitals. In the interview, Greenstin reveals that Grabovski’s one-year contract, worth $3 million, also carries a no-trade clause. So let’s hope that works out. (Per team policy, the Capitals could not confirm the NTC.)
Greenstin also discusses the scope of the league’s attention: twelve NHL teams sought Grabovski’s services, including Montreal– despite their falling out following his defection in 2008. And Grabovski also reportedly had interest from the KHL and their fleet of cash-filled dumptrucks.
Pavel Lysenkov: [Grabovski] called Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle an idiot. He was marooning him on the 3rd and 4th line. He exploded after the Leafs bought out his four-year, $21.5 million contract.
Garry Greenstin: Whatever happened happened. I would like to thank via Sovetsky Sport the teams from the NHL and KHL that expressed their interest in Grabovski. A special thank you to the management team of Ak Bars. Kazan was very persistent. I absolutely do not mind my client playing in the KHL. But the last word always belongs to the player.
Misha hasn’t won everything in the NHL. He belongs there. That’s why in July he already announced that he will be playing in North America.
The Leafs bought out his contract one day before his wedding. I flew to Toronto the previous day. In the morning there was a call from NHLPA, “Gary, they are buying out Grabo’s contract!”
In five minutes, I get a call from Toronto’s GM. With a hesitation in his voice, he tells me, “We didn’t want to do it, but that’s how it turned out. He did a lot for us, he is a very good player.”
Following the lockout, the salary cap was lowered. And Grabovski was the highest paid player on the team.
I called Misha. He was on his way to buy something for the wedding. His first reaction was shock. But the wedding went on beautifully. The girl is local, from Toronto. They already have two little kids.
Then they went on their honeymoon to France. I told him to go, and I would handle the business.
What he said about the coach. I believe the coach is always right. If there are problems, it’s for the agent and the GM to handle them. That’s what my position is, was, and always will be.
Every summer I organize a training camp in Southern California. Misha has worked out there for five years. Adam Oates, the head coach of Washington, flew in here just to meet and talk with Grabovski.
We really liked his enthusiasm, his hockey vision. Ant the team’s style fits Misha well. We actually received 12 offers just from the teams in the NHL. But because of the salary cap, all teams have limited means now.
True, we already had compensation as a result of the buyout. But we did not intend to go below our level. So we were looking for the optimal option. We were satisfied with $3 million. Also, after January 1st it is possible to extend the contract.
The terms of the deal were our choice. We decided right away on a one or two year deal. With a no trade clause.
Pavel Lysenkov: Why just one season?
Garry Greenstin: We’ll see what happens. I will be honest, there are clubs that want to see Misha on their team. We are not thinking about it right now. Right now the task is to fit in at Washington, to work together with Oates. I have no doubts everything will be fine. Because personally I have always admired Adam.
We could have waited until September. A center like Grabovski would not have stayed unemployed. One team told us: “wait for us to make a trade by the opening of preseason camp.” But we were completely satisfied with Washington.
Pavel Lysenkov: Who else from the KHL was interested in you?
Garry Greenstin: I talked to CSKA GM Sergei Fedorov. I looked at that option. But I told Sergei right away: “He played for you during the lockout, adapted. I don’t mind. But Misha wants to play there. His goal is to win the Stanley Cup. So we’ll return to our conversation.”
Kazan waited until the end. We had offers from Atlant, Avangard. There were a lot of choices on both sides of the ocean. I was surprised. We even had discussions with Montreal.
Pavel Lysenkov: Grabovski left there with a scandal.
Garry Greenstin: As an agent, I had to get him a worthy deal. But we picked the team that we liked the most. And as far as Misha’s abilities, [he could score] 60-70 points in a full season. Oates already told us where he wants to see him.
Pavel Lysenkov: Second line, replacing Mike Ribeiro?
Garry Greenstin: Let Oates decide where to play him. With Ovechkin or Backstrom, on the second line, on the power play…
Pavel Lysenkov: Does Grabovski know Ovechkin?
Garry Greenstin: They are both from Moscow Dynamo. But Mihail came there when Sasha already had gone to Washington. Maybe their ways have crossed somewhere. There are no issues with communications. Misha is an intelligent and good guy. And as far as what he said about Carlyle, he lost his temper. It happens. It would have been better not to have this moment in his career.
Additional reporting by Ian Oland.
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