Apr 26, 2013, 12:08 AM EST
New Jersey Devils superstar Ilya Kovalchuk never won a single NHL playoff game until he was traded away from what was then the Atlanta Thrashers. Surely he endured some bad times in those days, but even so, the Russian star told the Bergen Record that 2013 represents rock bottom.
“I think overall with the injuries and everything this was probably my worst season of my career,” Kovalchuk said. “It’s not easy and now with a lot of guys going to be unrestricted free agents, I don’t know what’s going to happen next year. We just can wait and see.”
If nothing else, it might be the 30-year-old’s most turbulent campaign.
The season began with a mild amount of controversy as it seemed like there was an issue with him staying overseas to play in the KHL All-Star Game. While that blew over and Kovalchuk remained as vital as ever for New Jersey, the Devils really saw how essential he is when they only one won game during his 11-game absence due to a shoulder injury.
Sure, missing the playoffs after a surprise run to the 2012 Stanley Cup finals has to hurt, but sitting out games isn’t something the star winger is used to. Even during the worst of times in Atlanta, he’s never missed more than three games in a full season until 2013.
So, considering the uncertain future Kovalchuk discussed, maybe it’s good for morale to put together a few wins even if the season’s a lost cause.
Dec 25, 2014, 9:00 PM EST
Sidney Crosby and Corey Perry are just two of the players that have been inflicted by the NHL outbreak.
Dec 25, 2014, 8:00 PM EST
And the NHL’s swift, significant response.
Dec 25, 2014, 7:00 PM EST
2014 was another painful year, but was it also one of progress?
Dec 25, 2014, 6:00 PM EST
The perfect storm that led to a shocking trade deadline captains swap between two teams looking to make serious playoff runs.
Dec 25, 2014, 5:00 PM EST
A major letdown in Sochi, followed by the Caps missing the playoffs.
Dec 25, 2014, 4:00 PM EST
One of the best performances in international hockey history.
Dec 25, 2014, 3:00 PM EST
Hockey mourned the loss of two of its most respected individuals.
Dec 25, 2014, 2:00 PM EST
It wasn’t the reason he was fired, but it sure was memorable.
Dec 25, 2014, 1:00 PM EST
After 22 years, the Finnish Flash called it a day.
Dec 25, 2014, 12:00 PM EST
From down 0-3 to winning it all.
Dec 25, 2014, 11:00 AM EST
Over 105,000 descended on Ann Arbor for an unforgettable experience.
Dec 25, 2014, 10:00 AM EST
Even a disappointing Olympic finish can’t erase a star-making moment.
Dec 25, 2014, 9:00 AM EST
Was quite the playoff run for L.A. and its 27-year-old defenseman.
Dec 25, 2014, 8:00 AM EST
Check back often. It’s an all-day thing.
Dec 24, 2014, 8:59 PM EST
Only Glen Sather is ahead of him.
Dec 24, 2014, 7:51 PM EST
“It’s like a little miracle down here.”
Dec 24, 2014, 6:40 PM EST
The goal was initially credited to Martin St. Louis.
Dec 24, 2014, 5:54 PM EST
Will he eventually earn a full-time NHL roster spot?
Dec 24, 2014, 4:31 PM EST
His stint with the Lightning was brief, but memorable.
Dec 24, 2014, 3:28 PM EST
Not surprisingly, the Kings feature prominently.
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