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.”
Aug 27, 2014, 6:10 PM EDT
He hasn’t played for them since 2007.
Aug 27, 2014, 4:55 PM EDT
It’s a two-way deal.
Aug 27, 2014, 3:47 PM EDT
Mr. Hockey still reigns supreme in Detroit.
Aug 27, 2014, 2:24 PM EDT
“I haven’t heard that.”
Aug 27, 2014, 1:28 PM EDT
“We haven’t defined a process and certainly no decisions have been made.”
Aug 27, 2014, 1:11 PM EDT
Needs to bounce back after last year’s disappointing campaign.
Aug 27, 2014, 12:31 PM EDT
Finished second in the NHL among forwards last year, with 87.
Aug 27, 2014, 11:39 AM EDT
Former Quebec league sniper is gunning for a gig in Detroit.
Aug 27, 2014, 10:57 AM EDT
Former Tampa Bay forward was bought out of his contract earlier this summer, following legal troubles.
Aug 27, 2014, 10:04 AM EDT
The Red Wings are rebuilding on the fly, but are they assembling a future Cup contender?
Aug 27, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
He’ll enter the second season of his seven-year, $36.75 million contract.
Aug 27, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
They have made it to the playoffs for 23 straight seasons.
Aug 26, 2014, 10:51 PM EDT
He’s the former face of the franchise.
Aug 26, 2014, 9:57 PM EDT
A recent report has added new fuel to the speculation on that subject.
Aug 26, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT
Dupuis and Hornqvist are two of the main options.
Aug 26, 2014, 7:23 PM EDT
Will they go another season without one?
Aug 26, 2014, 6:11 PM EDT
He’s going into the final season of his bridge contract.
Aug 26, 2014, 5:05 PM EDT
He’s looking to build off of his breakout campaign.
Aug 26, 2014, 3:56 PM EDT
The restricted free agent is likely to get a one or two-year deal.
Aug 26, 2014, 2:49 PM EDT
Injuries prevented him from doing much in the first season of his seven-year, $37.1 million deal.
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