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).
Sep 18, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
Jamie McGinn and John Mitchell also rank among the already-wounded.
Sep 18, 2014, 10:08 PM EDT
Peter Chiarelli also (kinda sorta) addressed Johnny Boychuk rumors.
Sep 18, 2014, 10:07 PM EDT
He won’t be paid or count against the cap while he’s injured.
Sep 18, 2014, 9:37 PM EDT
Everyone wins … except Minnesota’s other goalies.
Sep 18, 2014, 8:45 PM EDT
Maybe the English version of his book will be kinder?
Sep 18, 2014, 7:50 PM EDT
Sep 18, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT
He fits right in with the Flyers.
Sep 18, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT
Could be a slow road to recovery.
Sep 18, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT
At least the Blue Jackets’ GM is ruling out surgery.
Sep 18, 2014, 3:51 PM EDT
He’ll miss at least months, GM Ron Hextall said.
Sep 18, 2014, 3:16 PM EDT
Hey, he’s got less than eight years to go.
Sep 18, 2014, 2:25 PM EDT
“I don’t think I had a conversation with Torts until Christmas last year.”
Sep 18, 2014, 2:24 PM EDT
“The next time I’ll talk publicly about Jaden is when we sign him.”
Sep 18, 2014, 1:42 PM EDT
Never boring in Toronto.
Sep 18, 2014, 12:36 PM EDT
And it’s probably going to be Ryan McDonagh.
Sep 18, 2014, 12:12 PM EDT
Two key youngsters on a Stars team with high hopes.
Sep 18, 2014, 12:06 PM EDT
Former first-round pick missed extensive time to a torn ACL.
Sep 18, 2014, 11:42 AM EDT
Taken 16th overall in 2007.
Sep 18, 2014, 11:27 AM EDT
Remember him? Taken 3rd overall in 2004… behind Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin.
Sep 18, 2014, 11:10 AM EDT
Tough blow for a kid looking to make the leap this season.
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