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.
- Could Lundqvist start Saturday for the Rangers? 6
- Five big games to watch this weekend 7
- Video: Kessel, Booth get into altercation at Leafs practice 34
- Playoff watch — what the bubble teams need to do 29
- After Howard fails to ‘bounce back,’ Mrazek to receive ‘opportunity’ 36
- Bruins can’t hold Ducks off, suffer sixth loss in a row 32
- Ticket punched: Rangers become first team to clinch 2015 playoff berth 15
- Coyotes ‘win’ against Sabres in OT 56
- Marchand: If Bruins miss playoffs, ‘this is going to be a much different group next year’ 20
- Is Lecavalier offering to retire early to facilitate trade out of Philly? 28
- Dreger: ‘In Kessel’s case, I firmly believe he’s going to be traded’ (73)
- Coyotes ‘win’ against Sabres in OT (58)
- Red Wings beat Blues in OT, but should winning goal count? (56)
- Tank-worthy? Connor McDavid finishes OHL season with 120 points in 47 games (56)
- Report: No fine or suspension for Tyler Toffoli’s hit on Alex Burrows (51)