Feb 9, 2014, 9:50 AM EDT
SOCHI, Russia — Ilya Kovalchuk may have “retired” from the NHL to play in the KHL, but he doesn’t see the upcoming Olympic tournament as two leagues pitted against each other, and he doesn’t see it as a way for the fledgling, mostly-Russian league to prove its worth against the more established one in North America.
“It’s two great leagues. It doesn’t matter where anybody plays,” Kovalchuk said Sunday in Sochi, where he practiced with the KHL members of the Russian national squad. (The NHLers arrive Monday.)
“We’re here as a team, and nobody cares where you play. We’re here for a mission. I don’t want to show anybody anything. I just have to be myself and try to play my game.”
Kovalchuk’s game is offense. The 30-year-old winger has 16 goals and 24 assists this season for SKA Saint Petersburg, his 40 points ranking him first on the team and ninth in the league.
Not that North American hockey fans need to be told that Kovalchuk is a dangerous scorer; his 417 goals with the Thrashers and Devils were proof of that.
As for some of the other KHL players on the Russian roster, specifically the ones who’ve never played in the NHL? Well, Kovalchuk didn’t want to provide a scouting report for those who may not be familiar.
“They’ll see in a couple of days,” he said. “The Olympics are going to start, and I’m pretty sure they’ll find some names who they’re going to follow after the Olympics.”
But unlike some analysts have forecasted, Kovalchuk doesn’t believe the KHLers in the tournament will have a significant advantage over the NHLers when it comes to playing on the bigger international ice. By the time the games start to matter, he predicts everyone will have adjusted.
“It’s a little different game, the bigger ice, so you’ve got to skate more,” he said. “Physically, you’ve got to be better prepared than playing on a small rink, but we’ll see.”
Russia plays its first game Thursday versus Slovenia before a pair of tougher preliminary-round match-ups versus the United States (Saturday) and Slovakia (Sunday).
Apr 23, 2014, 9:53 AM EDT
He spent three seasons with the Flyers.
Apr 23, 2014, 9:20 AM EDT
He’s been out since April 10.
Apr 23, 2014, 8:25 AM EDT
It’s that or hit the road down 3-1.
Apr 23, 2014, 2:17 AM EDT
They’ll be facing elimination on Thursday.
Apr 23, 2014, 1:25 AM EDT
Stunner at the Staples Center.
Apr 23, 2014, 12:07 AM EDT
Impressive, but just his first marker of the series.
Apr 22, 2014, 11:50 PM EDT
Apr 22, 2014, 11:31 PM EDT
“They thrived on it.”
Apr 22, 2014, 11:06 PM EDT
Some thought he was milking an injury and even holding the wrong knee.
Apr 22, 2014, 10:53 PM EDT
Flyers fans give it right back, though.
Apr 22, 2014, 10:45 PM EDT
Get this: people will be talking about Flyers goaltending.
Apr 22, 2014, 10:40 PM EDT
Not exactly a thing of beauty, but it counts…
Apr 22, 2014, 10:25 PM EDT
Kept him out of the entire opening round.
Apr 22, 2014, 10:14 PM EDT
Boston’s first win at Joe Louis Arena in seven years.
Apr 22, 2014, 10:03 PM EDT
Not the names you’d expect, huh?
Apr 22, 2014, 9:50 PM EDT
Tampa Bay hits a wall called Montreal.
Apr 22, 2014, 9:39 PM EDT
Another blowout coming?
Apr 22, 2014, 9:03 PM EDT
And creates a little bit of controversy in the process.
Apr 22, 2014, 8:41 PM EDT
Could this be his last appearance with Tampa Bay?
Apr 22, 2014, 7:50 PM EDT
Also: Capitals Winter Classic and Islanders ownership talk.
- Sharks beat Kings in OT, take 3-0 stranglehold on series 33
- Rangers chase Emery, top Flyers for 2-1 series lead 51
- Bruins dominate Red Wings, take 2-1 series lead 37
- And then there were 15: Lightning eliminated 74
- WATCH LIVE: San Jose Sharks at Los Angeles Kings (Game 3) 2
- Bettman says shootouts are staying, gives salary cap estimate 34
- Video: Yeo asked if Cooke told to ‘target’ Avs, does not like question 45
- On Matt Cooke and whether he’s a ‘repeat offender’ 58
- Marleau, O’Reilly and St. Louis named Lady Byng finalists 20
- Zuccarello: ‘I’m not a diver’ 50
- Video: Seabrook ejected for charging Backes; will face hearing (update) (153)
- Bad luck strikes twice: Lightning goal waved off, Stamkos takes knee to head (127)
- Keith doesn’t remember if he taunted Backes after Seabrook hit (125)
- Video: Lucic spears DeKeyser from behind (118)
- Flyers want to ‘punish’ McDonagh (113)