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Kovalchuk insists he never planned on staying in KHL

Jan 16, 2013, 10:20 PM EDT

Ilya Kovalchuk AP

Ilya Kovalchuk participated in his first day of New Jersey Devils training camp on Wednesday, but perhaps most importantly, he made it clear he was happy to be there.

The high-end sniper took time to dismiss various KHL-related rumors with Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger.

“I have a contract here and in the KHL they have a rule that as soon as the lockout ends we have to go back,” Kovalchuk said. “Nobody has a choice. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind I was going to come back.”

Perhaps the “nobody has a choice” line indicates that part of him wishes he could finish 2012-13 overseas, but he stomped out what was left of the scuttlebutt – including laughing off some odd stuff about Russian president Vladimir Putin trying to convince him to stay.

“No, that’s not true. I’m sure he’s got some other stuff to take care of,” Kovalchuk said. “I had a great time there, we had a good team but I have a contract here. I’m happy I’m back. I’m happy we’re all back because I think it’s going to be an exciting season.”

More good news: head coach Peter DeBoer liked what he saw from the jet-lagged star today.

“For a guy who got off a plane after I don’t know how long a travel day it was for him, I thought he looked pretty good. It’s nice to have him back,” DeBoer said.

They certainly need him, especially with Adam Henrique on the mend.

  1. ron05342 - Jan 17, 2013 at 12:39 AM

    Yeah, sure.

    Hmmm…let’s see now. Just a little research turned up these recent gems:

    “I want to stay in St. Petersburg but I have contractual obligations in the NHL, which will be hard to break” – Kovalchuk to Sport-Express

    “Right now, I can’t imagine how (my staying in the KHL) can be arranged… But I don’t know anything yet” – Kovalchuk (via Sport-Express)

    “Time will tell (if I stay in the KHL),” Kovalchuk said. “Nothing is out of the question.”

    “Basically, I don’t rule out staying in Russia in the case of a reduction of our salaries in the NHL,” Kovalchuk told Sportbox.ru.

    Doesn’t sound like a guy who is happy to be back. As someone mentioned in a post earlier, what a clown.

    I feel sorry for Devils’ fans, having to deal with this fool. Thank God his wife didn’t like Los Angeles! Otherwise, he would be the Kings’ headache now.

    • lionstigersandwingsohmy - Jan 17, 2013 at 10:36 AM

      I am sure this is the first time a player said something to please the home fans because they are pressured by the local media. Kind of like every team in the league has the greatest fans.

  2. upyourstodd - Jan 17, 2013 at 9:08 AM

    Cant trust the Russians…or online girlfriends.

    • mb65dod - Jan 17, 2013 at 11:36 AM

      I did not know that Lance Amstrong is a russian….

      • upyourstodd - Jan 17, 2013 at 12:26 PM

        might as well be. Cant trust him either.

      • sheapuck - Jan 17, 2013 at 1:44 PM

        No one knows what his online activities are.

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