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).
Oct 1, 2014, 4:01 PM EDT
Didn’t take advantage of their opportunities.
Oct 1, 2014, 2:46 PM EDT
Sounds like both will start the season at center.
Oct 1, 2014, 2:24 PM EDT
Off to AHL Lake Erie they go.
Oct 1, 2014, 2:10 PM EDT
“We have not been in contact with the IOC and they have not been in touch with us.”
Oct 1, 2014, 2:09 PM EDT
Meaning all of Columbus’ No. 1 line — Jenner, Ryan Johansen and Nathan Horton — is now out of action.
Oct 1, 2014, 1:47 PM EDT
He won’t be ready for the season opener.
Oct 1, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT
Both have one-year, two-way contracts.
Oct 1, 2014, 1:26 PM EDT
And Zack Stortini has been placed on waivers.
Oct 1, 2014, 1:12 PM EDT
“You can tell a guy ‘don’t dive’, but even on our team we’ve seen a few of them.”
Oct 1, 2014, 1:04 PM EDT
Another veteran d-man, Nolan Yonkman, was also released.
Oct 1, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT
“But we’ve talked and we’ll continue to talk about it.”
Oct 1, 2014, 12:35 PM EDT
A rookie head coach, some significant roster turnover and the annual questions in goal.
Oct 1, 2014, 12:08 PM EDT
The second overall pick in the 2014 draft has gone pointless in three preseason games.
Oct 1, 2014, 11:54 AM EDT
Oct 1, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT
Pending RFA forward’s deal is up at the end of the season.
Oct 1, 2014, 11:07 AM EDT
Alex Goligoski is the team’s No. 1 d-man. And that’s a concern.
Oct 1, 2014, 10:56 AM EDT
“It was clicking on full cylinders there.”
Oct 1, 2014, 9:55 AM EDT
One of them was rusty.
Oct 1, 2014, 9:03 AM EDT
He was a restricted free agent, but was still taking part in training camp.
Oct 1, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
No, this post doesn’t just include the word “everything.”
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