Feb 9, 2014, 9:50 AM EST
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).
Jan 26, 2015, 2:21 PM EST
He’s been overseeing co-coaches Adam Oates and Scott Stevens.
Jan 26, 2015, 1:30 PM EST
He didn’t end up playing in the All-Star Game.
Jan 26, 2015, 12:31 PM EST
Remember, the club opted not to amnesty his contract last June.
Jan 26, 2015, 12:23 PM EST
Canucks will give Frank Corrado a chance to show what he can do.
Jan 26, 2015, 12:12 PM EST
Columbus’ star center is having a nice little run at the moment.
Jan 26, 2015, 12:05 PM EST
They also summoned Josh Anderson.
Jan 26, 2015, 11:23 AM EST
“Everybody felt like I just want a car to drive it.”
Jan 26, 2015, 10:55 AM EST
Ilya Kovalchuk deemed it a “worthy tournament,” though.
Jan 26, 2015, 9:51 AM EST
Including an intriguing game between the Islanders and Rangers.
Jan 26, 2015, 8:47 AM EST
Monday’s collection of links.
Jan 25, 2015, 9:49 PM EST
“We’re so proud of our city for showing that hockey is such a big deal here.”
Jan 25, 2015, 9:25 PM EST
“This is something I’ll remember for a very long time.”
Marc-Andre Fleury would like to remind the Columbus crowd that the Penguins beat the Blue Jackets in the playoffs
Jan 25, 2015, 8:59 PM EST
“I remember them being quiet in the end when we won.”
Jan 25, 2015, 8:16 PM EST
29 goals in all.
Jan 25, 2015, 7:36 PM EST
11 in total, eclipsing the old mark by one.
Jan 25, 2015, 6:43 PM EST
Chicago will resume play on Wednesday against Los Angeles.
Jan 25, 2015, 6:18 PM EST
Johansen scored again before the first period ended.
Jan 25, 2015, 5:43 PM EST
Vancouver forward gets Team Foligno on the board early.
Jan 25, 2015, 4:58 PM EST
A grab bag of fun as the game rapidly approaches.
Jan 25, 2015, 4:30 PM EST
It’s the 2015 NHL All-Star Game from Nationwide Arena in Columbus, on NBCSN.
- L.A. Sorry? Kings waive Mike Richards 48
- Bobrovsky out 4-6 weeks, Jackets recall goalie Forsberg 2
- Blue Jackets proud as Columbus shows it’s a hockey town 18
- From contract dispute to All-Star MVP, Johansen’s had quite the year 16
- Marc-Andre Fleury would like to remind the Columbus crowd that the Penguins beat the Blue Jackets in the playoffs 28
- Cannonball Run…and gun: Team Toews wins highest-scoring game in ASG history 23
- Supercut: Every goal from the highest-scoring period in All-Star Game history 7
- Video: Team Foligno survives shootout, wins Skills Competition 4
- Video: Weber wins hardest shot with 108.5 mph blast 13
- Video: Lightning’s Drouin wins fastest skater 7
- Columnist: Flyers ‘orchestrated’ fight night versus Pens during meal at ‘a local steakhouse’ (130)
- Flyers’ Rinaldo: ‘I changed the whole game, man’ (112)
- Video: Rinaldo tossed for boarding Letang (79)
- Report: Flyers’ Rinaldo waives right to an in-person hearing (61)
- Video: NHL offers Flyers’ Rinaldo in-person hearing (57)