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.”
Mar 31, 2015, 4:32 PM EDT
Not just a team that scores a lot of goals.
Mar 31, 2015, 3:38 PM EDT
Could really use a win tonight versus the Rangers.
Mar 31, 2015, 2:40 PM EDT
“I can speak from experience that home ice matters.”
Mar 31, 2015, 2:13 PM EDT
News and notes from around the crease…
Mar 31, 2015, 1:59 PM EDT
Florida’s season is essentially on the line.
Mar 31, 2015, 1:15 PM EDT
Sportsnet’s Stephen Brunt, not pulling any punches.
Mar 31, 2015, 1:05 PM EDT
He was Florida’s first-round pick (23rd overall) at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Mar 31, 2015, 12:32 PM EDT
Mar 31, 2015, 12:06 PM EDT
This after his team, Rogle, terminated his contract on Monday.
Mar 31, 2015, 12:01 PM EDT
Gave up four goals on 11 shots Sunday versus the Islanders.
Mar 31, 2015, 11:56 AM EDT
Just 2-for-33 over the last 15 games.
Mar 31, 2015, 11:39 AM EDT
Just one win in their last six.
Mar 31, 2015, 11:24 AM EDT
6-foot-5, 225-pounder led Charlottetown in penalty minutes this year, with 124.
Mar 31, 2015, 10:38 AM EDT
He finished tied for third in the country in assists last season.
Mar 31, 2015, 9:55 AM EDT
Los Angeles traded a first-round pick in February to get him.
Mar 31, 2015, 8:52 AM EDT
Could that really be the case this time?
Mar 31, 2015, 8:01 AM EDT
Tuesday’s collection of links.
Mar 31, 2015, 12:48 AM EDT
Feel free to change that to “lose.”
Mar 31, 2015, 12:22 AM EDT
The overall damage is currently unclear.
Mar 30, 2015, 11:44 PM EDT
And how good is life for the Calgary Flames?
- ‘Almost like a game seven tonight’ for Bruins, Panthers 5
- Report: Warrant issued for Deveaux’s arrest following Swedish league attack 43
- How bad are things for the Kings after Monday? 18
- Lightning clinch playoff berth, but did they lose Hedman? 9
- Blackhawks tease good injury news for Kane 8
- Tough times in Tampa: Garrison out 3-4 weeks after ‘pretty dirty’ Abdelkader hit 22
- Playoff watch — what the bubble teams need to do 29
- NHL on NBCSN: Stakes high for Kings, ‘Hawks tonight 21
- Blackhawks’ Sharp: ‘We knew we had to get two points’ 12
- Video: Brian Engblom takes a puck to the head 13