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Now Ilya Kovalchuk is threatening to stay in the KHL

Oct 23, 2012, 11:57 AM EDT

Ilya Kovalchuk AP

First it was Alex Ovechkin threatening to stay in the KHL if the NHL reduced player salaries via rollback or escrow.

Now it’s Ilya Kovalchuk.

“Basically, I don’t rule out staying in Russia in the case of a reduction of our salaries in the NHL,” Kovalchuk told (via “I just don’t understand why they needed to sign such contracts. Or they were just hoping to cut the percentage later? I believe that the contracts must be respected and this is a fundamental question. There’s no way the head of the [NHL Players’] Association and the hockey players will agree on the wage reduction.”

The NHL will argue that it’s always honored contracts and will continue to do so under the terms of a new CBA. If those terms mean players lose money via escrow, so be it. It’s not like players have never lost money to escrow.

But it’s the principle that counts, say the players.

Also, the money.

Kovalchuk, like Ovechkin, stands to lose more than most to escrow. The 29-year-old is set to earn $11 million next season and $11.3 million the next.

Whether Kovalchuk would 1) actually stay in Russia if his effective NHL salary were reduced or 2) be allowed to continue playing in Russia are two big unknowns. The KHL and NHL have an agreement to honor each other’s contracts, and once a new NHL CBA is signed and the lockout ends, Kovalchuk would once again be under contract to the Devils.

  1. sjsharks66 - Oct 23, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    Sweet, that’s one huge contracts not to worry about with the CBA. Now parise and weber should head to the KHL.

    • elvispocomo - Oct 23, 2012 at 2:03 PM

      That’s clearly what the NHL should do to assist the financially struggling teams, sell the contracts they deem as offensive and illegal to the KHL for the cash equivalent, and then use that money as a part of revenue sharing!

      Tough luck for the owners that got those players, and even tougher luck for the players that signed the deals knowing what might be coming in the CBA negotiations. Parise, Suter, Weber? Enjoy Siberia.

      Problem solved, we can have hockey back now.

  2. therealjr - Oct 23, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    Then stay there, you greedy SOB. I’m sure the Devils would like a mulligan on that contract anyway, just like the Caps with Ovechkin.

    • rsl22 - Oct 23, 2012 at 12:37 PM

      Yea, definitely, Devils were totally pissed with going from 81 points and a lottery pick in 2010-11 to the Stanley Cup finals in 2011-12.


      • therealjr - Oct 23, 2012 at 12:43 PM

        Hey, Generic Ignorant Resonse –

        As soon as super-expensive, under producing North Americans start threatening to jump to the KHL, they can be included.


      • rsl22 - Oct 23, 2012 at 1:07 PM

        “[T]he Pittsburgh Penguins captain acknowledged Thursday that he was going to start looking closer at what options might be available for him in Europe.”

        -National Post

        Also, let’s not forget Thornton, Briere, Tavares, Nash, Duchene, Couture, Bergeron…


      • therealjr - Oct 23, 2012 at 1:33 PM

        Options during the lockout. Not staying the KHL for good as Kovalchuk and Ovechkin have intimated. Get up to speed.

      • blomfeld - Oct 24, 2012 at 12:49 AM

        @therealjr – take it easy there Tovarisch … people are the same everywhere and you know that …

    • kicksave1980 - Oct 23, 2012 at 3:59 PM

      If you have a mutually agreed upon amount that your company is supposed to pay you for X amount of years, and then they suddenly tell you that you’re going to be given a pay cut…even though the company as a whole is bringing in more money than ever…would you stick around, or go somewhere else?

      I obviously don’t like this situation either, but no one held a gun to the owners’ heads and made them sign these contracts.

  3. id4joey - Oct 23, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    There is no way these fat cats will make near the money in the KHL that they would make playing in the NHL. So, as far as I’m concerned his and OV’s threats are irrelevant. Perhaps they are still adjusting to the new time zone, which could explain their irrational comments.

    • rsl22 - Oct 23, 2012 at 12:53 PM

      Players are not taxed in the KHL. Salary playing in Canada would forfeit around 40% to the Canada Revenue Agency, around 30% would go to the IRS. That’s a lot of cash. So yea, they could definitely make as much money in the KHL. But facts are for jerks.

    • id4joey - Oct 23, 2012 at 7:36 PM

      Do you all think these 2 guys are serious about saying in Russia? Really!

  4. hockeyfan763 - Oct 23, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    There is a reason they didn’t stay in the KHL in the first place.. They came here for the money and the quality of living. The threats they are making are hollow.

  5. kicksave1980 - Oct 23, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    Calling these guys greedy because they want what is theirs?! We can argue all day about whether some of these guys are overpaid, but that isn’t the point. It takes two signatures on a contract, and if a team (stupidly) signs a guy for that long, and that much money, they have no one to blame but themselves.

  6. mpg44 - Oct 23, 2012 at 4:15 PM

    That is the problem with signing long contracts . So you mean to tell me neither he nor his agent were smart enough to realize that at some point durin this contract the CBA would have to be renegotiated .

    • kicksave1980 - Oct 23, 2012 at 7:25 PM

      Sure they did. But at the same time, so did the owners that agreed to the contract. Surely you’re not accusing the owners of negotiating in bad faith…?

      A contract is a contract. It should be honored to the letter. No one forced NJ to give him so many years.

      • mpg44 - Oct 23, 2012 at 7:44 PM

        Listen … They BOTH knew and they BOTH were negotiating out of bad faith. As we all remember the long saga of the ” summer of kovy ” , yes the length of the contract was an issue with him not just the dollar value. So , again , THEY BOTH KNEW. What would lie down the road !! NIEHTER SIDE IS INNOCENT OF THE MESS WE FANS NOW HAVE TO LIVE WITH!!!!

  7. blomfeld - Oct 23, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    he could stay there but he won’t … and neither will Ovechkin … these people are fooling no one with their calls of “cry wolf” … and there will unfortunately be a price to pay upon their return …

  8. xxakshunxx - Oct 23, 2012 at 5:03 PM

    I know some devils fans might be happy to dump the contract, but what these players are doing is basically saying F You to their fans

  9. xjokerz - Oct 23, 2012 at 6:43 PM

    Oh we’ll another Russian pos

    See yaaa

  10. detroit09 - Oct 23, 2012 at 8:41 PM

    And we all know players always honor their contracts…

  11. woodstakes - Oct 24, 2012 at 1:33 AM

    ” The KHL and NHL have an agreement to honor each other’s contracts, and once a new NHL CBA is signed and the lockout ends, Kovalchuk would once again be under contract to the Devils.”

    Hmmm, now what about when the NHL comes out and says “We’re not going to ‘honor’ these contracts…” which they are basically trying to do with these ‘negotiations’. The minute they say we’ll ‘make whole’ or what ever screwed up language they want to use to say “We’re not honoring these contracts…” the players in my opinion could just simply take them to court and say. “WE negotiated this contract, I intend to hold up my end of the contract, now they (owners/league) are saying they’re not going to hold up they’re end of it… I want this contract nullified.” For some reason I don’t think any of these guys would have to tough of time getting that done. They then could play anywhere they want to.

    People seem to think these players are just about the money. Kovy, Ovie any of the star Rusky’s could make WAY more money playing in the KHL vs the NHL, the great North American talent could as well, yet they all seem to go the NHL… why is that ya think? Great players of EVERY sport want to play against the best players. Winning a KHL Championship means very little when the best of the best are over in North America playing against each other for the Stanley Cup.

    Gimmie a break here guys… calling these guys all ‘greedy’… sure they make a lot of money. BUT all they are asking for is to get paid the CONTRACT they NEGOTIATED with OWNERS for they’re services. PERIOD!!! This deal would be DONE right now if they got that. The players would virtually fold on most everything else if they got that guaranteed. BUT, nope the owners say they won’t guarantee that so…. HERE WE ARE!

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