Jan 11, 2013, 11:20 AM EST
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.”
Dec 9, 2013, 5:45 PM EST
Red Wings actually fared well in his absence.
Dec 9, 2013, 5:15 PM EST
Jon Cooper knows it could be a lot worse.
Dec 9, 2013, 4:25 PM EST
“We’re pretty frustrated,” said Ryan McDonagh.
Dec 9, 2013, 3:55 PM EST
Anaheim’s coming off two impressive wins over the ‘Hawks and Blues.
Dec 9, 2013, 3:17 PM EST
Tough times in the Chicago goal.
Dec 9, 2013, 2:45 PM EST
All the latest from the blue paint…
Dec 9, 2013, 2:44 PM EST
They’re in Anaheim to play the Ducks tonight.
Dec 9, 2013, 2:08 PM EST
Sounds like it could be.
Dec 9, 2013, 1:40 PM EST
And the players and coach seem to agree with the chart.
Dec 9, 2013, 1:37 PM EST
He’s been up, he’s been down.
Dec 9, 2013, 1:16 PM EST
The first punishment handed down from Saturday’s ugly Pittsburgh-Boston affair.
Dec 9, 2013, 12:47 PM EST
‘Canes play tonight in Vancouver and tomorrow in Edmonton.
Dec 9, 2013, 12:29 PM EST
Bit of a dream season for the 27-year-old hometown boy.
Dec 9, 2013, 12:29 PM EST
Free agent signing has been a disappointment this season.
Dec 9, 2013, 12:12 PM EST
“I guess I got him in the back of the leg.”
Dec 9, 2013, 11:49 AM EST
“Well that’s just super,” the Blue Jackets probably didn’t say.
Dec 9, 2013, 11:34 AM EST
It’s a mismatch on paper.
Dec 9, 2013, 11:23 AM EST
He led Philadelphia in scoring for a while.
Dec 9, 2013, 11:12 AM EST
Russian rookie is on fire at the moment.
Dec 9, 2013, 11:10 AM EST
Have won five of their last seven. Play tonight in Vancouver.
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- Report: Dion Phaneuf will face hearing for hit on Kevan Miller 97
- Bruins coach admits Thornton crossed the line, slams Pens for not being ‘truthful’ 115
- Lecavalier out 3-4 weeks with non-displaced fracture in back 8
- Islanders players hold closed-door meeting after ninth straight loss 14
- Penguins’ Neal has phone hearing for knee on Bruins’ Marchand 89
- Shawn Thornton confirms hearing with NHL Department of Player Safety (Updated) 87
- Video: Penguins’ Neal knees Bruins’ Marchand 69
- Penguins announce Brooks Orpik ‘alert and conscious’ (Updated) 47
- Shawn Thornton: ‘People could probably criticize that I’m a little too honorable’ 78
- Video: Penguins’ Orpik stretchered off ice; Bruins’ Thornton given match penalty (180)
- Neal suspended five games for kneeing Marchand in the head (134)
- Pens put Orpik on IR (127)
- Bruins coach admits Thornton crossed the line, slams Pens for not being ‘truthful’ (115)
- Report: Dion Phaneuf will face hearing for hit on Kevan Miller (97)