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Sympathy for the Devils: NHL softens team’s Ilya Kovalchuk penalty

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Lou Lamoriello and Ilya Kovalchuk

The Devils have dodged a financial and draft bullet for their contract chicanery with Ilya Kovalchuk. (Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

Well, now we think we know why Lou Lamoriello didn’t cough up the 29th overall draft pick in 2012.

The fix was already in.

What else are we supposed to read into today’s asinine decision by the NHL to rescind two elements of the punishment it imposed on Lamoriello’s New Jersey Devils for circumventing salary cap rules with a front-loaded 17-year contract for Ilya Kovalchuk in 2010?

The league sent a clear message that year by fining the Devils $3 million, and forcing them to forfeit a third round pick in 2011 as well as a first rounder in one of next four drafts, that it would not tolerate contracts tailored to unreasonably lessen cap hits late in the deal’s term. It was a harsh sanction at the time, especially since there were no specific rules prohibiting that type of activity in the CBA, but it was widely applauded around the league because, hey, no one likes a chiseler, am I right?

And then, four years later, we get this. Today it was revealed that the league has rescinded $1.5 million of the fine and, instead of stripping that first rounder, it will now force the Devils to select 30th overall in the 2014 draft.

Really? What kind of Mickey Mouse decision is that?

Read More…


  • Published On Mar 06, 2014
  • Video: Ilya Kovalchuk blasted by teammate, could miss 4-6 weeks

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    By Allan Muir

    With seven goals in his first nine games, Ilya Kovalchuk hasn’t met an opponent yet who can stop his one-man rampage through the KHL.

    If only he had the same luck with his teammates.

    Kovalchuk was leading the rush into Vityaz Chekhov’s zone last night when he was clobbered at the blueline by his own winger, Alexei Ponikarovsky. Kovy had his head up all the way but couldn’t avoid the hard hit when his former New Jersey Devils teammate veered into his path at the last instant.

    Kovalchuk looked dazed, but managed to get up immediately and skate off under his own power. Turns out that he had more than the wind knocked out of him, however.

    Tough break for Kovy . . . and remember to stay classy, Jersey.


  • Published On Sep 30, 2013
  • Ilya Kovalchuk struggles in first game since return to KHL

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    Ilya Kovalchuk

    Ilya Kovalchuk has said he doesn’t think playing in the KHL will dull his skills. (Martin Rose/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    This probably wasn’t how Ilya Kovalchuk pictured it all going down.

    Although his SKA St. Petersburg club rolled to a convincing 5-1 win over Avangard Omsk on Friday night, the erstwhile Devil was held pointless in his less-than-triumphant return to the KHL.

    Typical enigmatic Russian, am I right?

    Kovalchuk put just one shot on net for SKA. He did, however, kick one into the net at the end of the game, “seemingly out of frustration,” according to rsport.com.

    No doubt he will find the net when it counts soon enough — he had 42 points in 36 games for SKA last season, after all — but jilted fans in New Jersey had to enjoy seeing Kovalchuk faceplant in his first action since he hung them out to dry.


  • Published On Sep 06, 2013
  • Kovalchuk supports Russian anti-gay law; Crosby, other stars opposed

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    Ilya Kovalchuk

    Former Devil Ilya Kovalchuk is toeing his homeland’s party line for Sochi. (Martin Rose/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Here’s a shocker: another high-profile Russian athlete has come out in support of their country’s controversial anti-gay propaganda law.

    “I agree, of course,” said Ilya Kovalchuk. “I’m Russian and we all have to respect that. It’s personal and, like I said, it’s a free world, but that’s our line. That’s our country, so everybody has to respect that.”

    I’m guessing that Kovalchuk, who was speaking to TSN, might have a different understanding of the phrase “free world” than most people.

    To be fair, though, he’s got more skin in this game than any of us. Maybe that is the way he feels. Maybe that’s the way he was told to feel. Doesn’t much matter. It’s pretty clear now that this is the sort of stock answer you should expect whenever a Russian is asked to speak in public about this particular law.

    The same question was posed to several players at Team Canada’s orientation camp in Calgary on Sunday, and while what they said didn’t exactly come across as an outpouring of support for the gay community, it’s clear that their views are a little different.

    Read More…


  • Published On Aug 26, 2013
  • Ilya Kovalchuk speaks out: “I’m sure I made the right decision.”

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    Ilya Kovalchuk signed a four-year deal with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    Ilya Kovalchuk signed a four-year deal with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Just hours after signing a new four-year deal with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL, Ilya Kovalchuk came clean Monday in the Russian publication Sovietsky Sport about why he left the NHL and what it means to him to be back home in Russia.

    “I have no regrets,” he said. “I’m sure I made the right decision.”

    He didn’t offer up any surprises while explaining why he bailed out on the final 12 years and $77 million of a contract he signed with the New Jersey Devils to head home, but he did offer some insights into his stunning career change.

    Read More…


  • Published On Jul 15, 2013
  • Ilya Kovalchuk signs with SKA St. Petersburg of KHL, plans NHL return

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    Ilya Kovalchuk

    After retiring from the NHL, Ilya Kovalchuk signed a contract with SKA St. Petersburg. (Mike Stobe/NHL/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    It’s official: Ilya Kovalchuk has signed with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL.

    The league confirmed the deal is for four years and that Kovalchuk will wear No. 17 with the club.

    No financial terms were disclosed, but unconfirmed reports suggest he could make as much as $15 million per season.

    Not that he made the move for the money, of course.

    Read More…


  • Published On Jul 15, 2013
  • Don Cherry on Ilya Kovalchuk: “He’s laughing all the way to the bank.”

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    Don Cherry spoke out about Ilya Kovalchuk leaving the NHL.

    Now hear this: Ilya Kovalchuk was Don Cherry’s kind of Russian player … to a point. (Leon T Switzer/ Icon SMI)

    By Allan Muir

    In the 24 hours since Ilya Kovalchuk dropped his “retirement” bombshell on the NHL, we’ve heard the reactions of everyone from basketball’s Metta World Peace to Kovalchuk’s own mother. But we haven’t heard from hockey’s eternal wellspring of hot sports opinions: Mr. Donald S. Cherry

    Until now.

    Hey, you didn’t think he was saving these thoughts for Blue, didja?

    Speaking to radio host Bryan Angus on Friday morning, Cherry seemed surprisingly subdued when the topic of Kovalchuk’s departure was raised.

    Read More…


  • Published On Jul 12, 2013
  • Ilya Kovalchuk passes up chance at NHL history with early retirement

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    Ilya Kovalchuk could have been one of the NHL's greatest Russian players.

    Despite his hard, accurate shot and great touch, Ilya Kovalchuk led the NHL in goal-scoring only once. (Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Before he stunned the hockey world with his abrupt retirement announcement on Thursday, Ilya Kovalchuk was on track to rank among the greatest Russian-born players in NHL history.

    Maybe the greatest.

    That won’t happen now. Not unless he decides that home cooking and same-day viewings of the Evening Urgant Show aren’t quite as satisfying as his homesick mind made them out to be. And even if he does have a change of heart, it would take the approval of all 30 teams before he’d be allowed back in the NHL.

    Don’t count on that happening.

    So instead we’re left to ponder the impact of career cut short. Not what might have been. What was.

    All things considered, he did pretty well for himself over 11 NHL seasons.

    Photo gallery: Ilya Kovalchuk’s NHL Career

    Read More…


  • Published On Jul 12, 2013
  • Ilya Kovalchuk retires: Jeremy Roenick outrage headlines Twitter reactions

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    Ilya Kovalchuk

    Ilya Kovalchuk delighted Devils fans in July of 2010, then crushed them in July of ’13. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    New Jersey Devils star Ilya Kovalchuk shocked the NHL world today by retiring at the age of 30. Kovalchuk had 12 years and $77 million remaining on his deal, but will return home to Russia instead of remaining with his NHL team. The news shook Devils fans — and the Twitterverse.

    MUIR: Kovalchuk stuns NHL, sparks potential KHL drama

    HACKEL: Devils paid high price for little from Kovalchuk

    Photo gallery: Ilya Kovalchuk’s NHL career

    Photo gallery: Biggest sports retirements of 2013

    Here’s a sampling of the reactions from the social media realm:

    Read More…


  • Published On Jul 11, 2013
  • Devils’ Ilya Kovalchuk stuns NHL with retirement, sparks potential KHL drama

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    Ilya Kovalchuk

    Ilya Kovalchuk, 30, shocked the NHL world by announcing his retirement on July 11. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    The New Jersey Devils have announced that forward Ilya Kovalchuk is retiring from the National Hockey League.

    “This decision was something I have thought about for a long time going back to the lockout and spending the year in Russia,” Kovalchuk said. “Though I decided to return this past season, Lou was aware of my desire to go back home and have my family there with me. The most difficult thing for me is to leave the New Jersey Devils, a great organization that I have a lot of respect for, and our fans that have been great to me.”

    New Jersey general manager Lou Lamoriello issued the following statement: “After many conversations with Ilya over the past year on his desire to retire from the National Hockey League, Ilya’s decision became official today. On behalf of the entire organization, I wish Ilya and his family all the best in their future endeavors.”

    HACKEL: Devils paid high price for little from Kovalchuk

    Read More…


  • Published On Jul 11, 2013


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