Kukla's Korner Hockey
Brooks: Lockout was the last straw for Kovalchuk; Russian NHL’ers almost stayed in KHL for 13 season
by George Malik on 07/14/13 at 05:40 AM ET
The New York Post's Larry Brooks posits a, "It was the lockout" theory regarding the reasons behind Ilya Kovalchuk's decision to retire from the Devils and return to Russia, and he also drops something of a bombshell regarding the intentions of several Russian superstars who ended up playing for their respective NHL teams during the 2013 season along the way:
It is hypothetical, of course, but the chances are remote Kovalchuk would have left the Devils for Russia if not for the lockout, given the fact the winger endured a circumvention hearing, a nullified contract and the threat of yet another circumvention hearing during the summer of 2010 when the KHL beckoned, offering far more than the $100 million on the table in New Jersey.
On Jan. 4, the day before the marathon negotiating session commenced that would lead to settlement of the lockout in the wee hours of Jan. 6, the NHLPA dissuaded Kovalchuk, Alexander Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk and Evgeni Malkin from issuing a joint statement declaring their intent to remain in Russia for at least the remainder of the KHL season regardless of whether or when the NHL reopened.
The Post, which first reported that news, has been told the Players’ Association would have been prepared to support the rights of these players to play indefinitely in a different league under contracts signed during the NHL lockout if the timing had been different and would not have created a significant last-minute obstacle to settlement.
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