May 19, 2012, 1:03 PM EDT
Ilya Kovalchuk has had a big year and a big playoffs, so far, for the New Jersey Devils. While many Russian players have been getting a bad rap during the playoffs for one reason or another, Kovalchuk is viewed as being a prince among men in the Devils’ locker room.
Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice hears it from a few different Devils players about what Kovalchuk has meant to the team and their locker room. Coach Peter DeBoer was particularly thoughtful about what Kovalchuk means to the team.
“This guy’s a good person and a good teammate,” DeBoer said. “Superstars often get bad raps, especially Russian superstars. That couldn’t be further from the case. This guy could be born in Canada or the United States and you wouldn’t know the difference other than his accent. He’s here to win. He’s a team-first guy. He’s very unselfish. He’s just a great person.
“I don’t think that’s common knowledge around the league.”
Most people think of Kovalchuk and his awkward exit from the Atlanta Thrashers as well as his previous playoff failures. Now with the Devils in the Eastern Conference finals and him being a big part of it, Kovalchuk is winning people over as well as games on the ice.
- Cooper: Lightning have to ‘suck it up’ and ‘fight through’ Wings’ interference 4
- Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for tonight 11
- Price makes 43 saves as Senators’ magical run ends in controversy 38
- Video: Fast whistle costs Senators potentially critical goal 15
- WATCH LIVE: Today’s Stanley Cup playoff action 3
- Another Blues campaign ends in disappoint as Wild advance 95
- Crosby joining Team Canada at Worlds 18
- Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for today 12
- One more time, with feeling: Flames stage yet another comeback, eliminate Vancouver 25
- Keith conquers: Blackhawks come back, eliminate Predators 49
- Too little, too late: Rangers stifle Penguins for 2-1 series lead (114)
- It’s Done: Rangers eliminate Penguins in overtime (110)
- Another Blues campaign ends in disappoint as Wild advance (95)
- Bettman under fire after saying ‘Katy Perry’ chant wasn’t sexist (92)
- Okposo blasts ‘idiot’ Wilson after physical outing versus Isles (82)