Jan 11, 2013, 11:20 AM EDT
The Ilya Kovalchuk-KHL saga is over.
Well, over for now.
Reports out of Russia claim the New Jersey sniper has played his final regular season game for SKA St. Petersburg and, after participating in Sunday’s KHL All-Star Game, will fly back to North America and report to Devils training camp — albeit a day late.
Here’s more, from NorthJersey.com’s Tom Gulliti:
According to Dmitry Chesnokov of Yahoo Sports, the coach of Kovalchuk’s KHL team, SKA St. Petersburg, said that Thursday’s game against Salavat Yulaev in Ufa, Russia was likely the last in the KHL for Kovalchuk, meaning, in Chesnokov’s estimation, that Kovalchuk will leave for New Jersey as early as Monday.
Slava Malamud, a U.S.-based correspondent for the Russian sports daily Sport-Express, posted on Twitter today that SKA St. Petersburg’s GM [Alexei Kasatonov] said the team will make an announcement on Kovalchuk Saturday and that [Kovalchuk’s] family is already back in the U.S.
Kovalchuk’s waffling has been a hot topic lately.
Things heated up immediately after the lockout ended, as Kovalchuk said only time would tell if he’d stay in the KHL. He then explained he wanted to read the entire NHL CBA before making a decision.
Later, Kovalchuk told Russian news outlet Sport-Express he wanted to finish the season with SKA, but admitted he had “contractual obligations in the NHL, which will be hard to break.”
Given Kovalchuk is New Jersey’s highest-paid player — he’s
four three years into a 15-year, $100 million deal — it’s easy to see why his actions have come under scrutiny from fans and media.
What’s interesting, though, is the scrutiny also infiltrated the dressing room.
Teammate and former captain Patrik Elias said Kovalchuk missing the start of Devils camp is problematic.
“It is,” Elias said when asked if Kovalchuk missing the start of camp was a big deal. “We’re all supposed to report on Sunday, right?”
Compounding matters is the fact Kovalchuk should (theoretically) take a bigger leadership role this season with former captain Zach Parise now in Minnesota.
Kovalchuk was an alternate captain last season and led the Devils in regular season and playoff scoring. He also drew praise from NHL on NBC analyst Jeremy Roenick for leading New Jersey to the Cup finals.
“Kovalchuk has grown more than most superstars have in the National Hockey League,” Roenick said. “He’s an all-around player and much more of a team player.
“If he doesn’t grow like that, the team doesn’t get to the Final.”
May 27, 2015, 12:59 AM EDT
Almost completely shut the door through two periods.
May 27, 2015, 12:09 AM EDT
Game 7. Friday in New York.
May 26, 2015, 11:34 PM EDT
“Boy, that escalated quickly…”
May 26, 2015, 11:03 PM EDT
Ben Bishop pulled in the third period.
May 26, 2015, 10:29 PM EDT
Timonen is averaging under 10 minutes of ice time per game in playoffs.
May 26, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT
Hadn’t scored since April 4.
May 26, 2015, 9:16 PM EDT
New York scored to make it 2-0 soon after that.
May 26, 2015, 8:52 PM EDT
New York needs the win to force Game 7.
May 26, 2015, 8:13 PM EDT
“We’ve had a lot of informal discussions with people about this, but us or the city have yet to be presented with any kind of offer.”
May 26, 2015, 7:24 PM EDT
New York facing elimination, yet again.
May 26, 2015, 6:29 PM EDT
“I’ve had some people reach out to me,” the Red Wings GM said.
May 26, 2015, 5:24 PM EDT
Meanwhile, GM Doug Armstrong says, “Show me a well-liked coach, and I’ll show you a losing coach.”
May 26, 2015, 4:57 PM EDT
But let’s not call it the end of an era.
May 26, 2015, 4:31 PM EDT
Michael Russo of the StarTribune being the reporter.
May 26, 2015, 3:55 PM EDT
“The Flyers have never intentionally tried to lose. That would put a foul taste in my mouth. “
May 26, 2015, 2:46 PM EDT
“Does he ride guys hard and has he been on my case at times, where it’s made me angry? Yes. But he does it in the light of trying to make our team better, trying to make each individual player better.”
May 26, 2015, 2:14 PM EDT
Had a bad giveaway in Game 5, but those giveaways are going to happen occasionally.
May 26, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT
Could be held out of tonight’s potential series-clinching tilt.
May 26, 2015, 1:10 PM EDT
But there’s nothing imminent, according to his agent.
May 26, 2015, 12:34 PM EDT
The 36-year-old played just 14:44 last night in Anaheim.
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