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Iced Coffey

Kovalchuk’s new nickname ‘The Fraud’

“I am never surprised by anything that happens in this game today.”

Lou Lamoriello sure got that right Thursday while participating in an unanticipated conference call with media memebers after the shocking news that Ilya Kovalchuk had bolted for Russia.

But as Lamoriello said, we can't really be surprised anymore, can we? Especially in this case when Kovalchuk's money grab made LeBron James' "Decision" pale in comparison.

Remember all the vitriol when James, who was a free agent at the time, held court with NBA teams looking to sign him and then held a tacky announcement show on ESPN? Sure, you can blame James and his group of advisors for lacking marketing savvy, but James wasn't bolting on a valid contract that had more than a decade to run.

"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,” Kovalchuk said in a statement that reeks of hogwash.

You know there won't be a press conference in North America because he would have to answer some pretty hard questions.

Kovalchuk should dispense with all this talk of wanting to play at home, as if earning  $100 million over a 15-year contract to live and work in New Jersey was too big a burden to bear.

“This decision was something I have thought about for a long time going back to the lockout and spending the year in Russia," Kovalchuk also said in his statement. "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."

Here's the trick Kovy, you should have told Lamoriello about all this love for Mother Russia BEFORE you signed on for 15 years! After all, it is a bitch of a commute. And that way, the Devils would likely still have Zach Parise (Opps, forgot, he wanted to go home, too) or David Clarkson (another one who couldn't resist the lure of his hometown, in this case, Toronto).

But, again, both Parise and Clarkson were free agents, able to shop their wares elsewhere and be perfectly within the rules.

But not Kovalchuk, who has over a decade left on his deal. Kovalchuk pines for life in Russia and "retires." OK, fair enough. He has retired and can live a very nice life with the $30-plus million he has banked during his career with the Devils.

But no. That's not the case at all. We might be able to forgive such an altruistic decision.

But no, as "Deep Throat" told Woodward and Bernstein: "Follow the money." And the money here comes from SKA St. Petersburg, Kovalchuk's KHL team during the NHL lockout. Various reports have the KHL club ready to pony up $15 million per season.

So not only does Kovalchuk get to bask in the glow of his family and country, but he is going to be paid better than the paltry $11 million New Jersey was going to pay.

What a mercenary! Talk about your self-absorbed pro athlete!

Me. Me. Me.

Any Devils fan who bought a jersey with Kovalchuk's name on the back should fell cheated and used. Kovalchuk played you for a rube. But he also played Lamoriello for a rube, which isn't easy to do by any stretch. He played the entire Devils organization as suckers. Remember, getting Kovalchuk to come to New Jersey cost a package of players and draft picks lead by defenseman Johnny Oduya. Then there was the whole cap circumvention mess that resulted in the NHL taking away a first round draft pick. So Kovalchuk coming to the Devils emptied out the cupboards pretty effectively.

So people around the Devils and the NHL feel like rubes and suckers. But Ilya Kovalchuk has proven to be a fraud and that's a lot worse.

In the next couple days, there will be more reports and probably a photo or two of a smiling Kovalchuk brandishing a nice, new SKA St. Petersburg jersey for all to see. I hope the fans there are smart enough not to buy one.

Filed in: | Iced Coffey | Permalink
 

Comments

Avatar

Here’s the trick Kovy, you should have told Lamoriello about all this love for Mother Russia BEFORE you signed on for 15 years!

Here’s the trick, Coffey.  You should read the words that he said BEFORE commenting.

Jesus Christ, right above your rant is the quote that “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.”

So yeah, he should’ve told Lamoriello three years ago that he would play in Russia during the lockout this season and want to return there.

Me. Me. Me.

Who SHOULD he be concerned about? 

You, you, you?

Strangers, strangers, strangers?

Bloggers, bloggers, bloggers?

Wow, what a piece of shit, he wants to go back to his home country and play a game instead of playing a game thousands of miles away from his home.  My God, how self-absorbed can you…sorry, he...be?

Posted by Garth on 07/12/13 at 09:20 AM ET

Tony Perkis's avatar

You’re soooo intelligent and funny Garth. You must make friends everywhere you go.

Posted by Tony Perkis from Drinking at Robert's Lounge with Billy Batts on 07/12/13 at 10:05 AM ET

SnLO's avatar

This Kovalchuk thing seems to have really struck a nerve with Pcoffey. Outside of the post on 1 July, no posts since January, then all a sudden two posts in twlelve hours. What makes it worse, I can’t tell if he’s upset for the Devils, against long-term contracts, teams signing foreign players, or the NHL with a salary cap.

Posted by SnLO from beyond the M-1 on 07/12/13 at 10:15 AM ET

NHLJeff's avatar

You guys have to admit that the whole situation is ridiculous. Kovalchuk made a commitment, and he should keep it. His mother was quoted yesterday saying how escrow and taxes played a major part in the decision, so it’s clearly not all about family. It’s also not fair to other NHL teams, in my opinion, that the Devils are getting off almost scott free ($250k cap hit) from that absurd contract.

Posted by NHLJeff from Pens fan in Chicago, IL on 07/12/13 at 10:39 AM ET

Evilpens's avatar

ehhh The Prospective new owner probably didn’t want that Albatross on him

Posted by Evilpens on 07/12/13 at 10:55 AM ET

awould's avatar

It is a classless move.

It is also inevitable when the league locks the players out, forcing them to take that opportunity to get a taste of something else. He may have never chosen to go to the KHL, except he had the chance to experience it and apparently liked it. Or, liked it enough when the money and proximity to home are factored in.

In the end, I don’t care much about it. It makes the Devils a worse team, so great. I don’t like the precedent it has set though, but I doubt we’ll see too many players follow.

Posted by awould on 07/12/13 at 11:39 AM ET

Avatar

The devils should be fined for this atrocity. They signed the horrible deal, they should have to toll this contract. Pure BS.

Posted by timbits on 07/12/13 at 11:55 AM ET

Avatar

I’m not saying I like the guy, but he put people in the seats. 

Not going to be such an easy draw now.  Who do you put, Marek Zidlicky, on the marquee?

It’ll only get worse as this offense-starved team slides down the standings.

Posted by Michael Smith from New Jersey on 07/12/13 at 12:02 PM ET

mormerod19's avatar

A little harsh on Kovy. The fact is the whole situation smells. The simple fact that hte Devils chose NOT to give the slightest fight shows there is so much more to this. You have a team with financial difficulties, and then a player with a horrible contract is just allowed to walk ? I’m smelling urinal pucks here. There have been cases of players doing this before, but in every case there has been a fight. I’m not so sure he would have gone had the idea not been a welcome one by a “Mickey Mouse organazation”.

Posted by mormerod19 on 07/12/13 at 12:20 PM ET

shanetx's avatar

A little harsh on Kovy. The fact is the whole situation smells. The simple fact that hte Devils chose NOT to give the slightest fight shows there is so much more to this. You have a team with financial difficulties, and then a player with a horrible contract is just allowed to walk ? I’m smelling urinal pucks here. There have been cases of players doing this before, but in every case there has been a fight. I’m not so sure he would have gone had the idea not been a welcome one by a “Mickey Mouse organazation”.


This.  The devils are 100% complicit with this.  The move does not happen if they don’t sign off on it beforehand.  Even Kovalchuk isn’t dumb enough to take that big of a dump on the fanbase, right?  He knew what he was doing and so did the Devils.

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 07/12/13 at 01:08 PM ET

Paul's avatar

This Kovalchuk thing seems to have really struck a nerve with Pcoffey. Outside of the post on 1 July, no posts since January, then all a sudden two posts in twlelve hours. What makes it worse, I can’t tell if he’s upset for the Devils, against long-term contracts, teams signing foreign players, or the NHL with a salary cap.

Posted by SnLO from the sub-great white north on 07/12/13 at 11:15 AM ET

Just to clear things up, Mr. Coffey posts when he so desires and a real job is his first priority.

His experience with the NHL is valuable to me and I welcome all of his posts whenever they do appear.

Agree or disagree with his topics, that is up for discussion.

 

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 07/12/13 at 01:38 PM ET

SnLO's avatar

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 07/12/13 at 02:38 PM ET

Don’t miss-take my observation / opinion, I like his posts too.

Posted by SnLO from beyond the M-1 on 07/12/13 at 01:54 PM ET

Paul's avatar

I am not SnLO, just wanted to make sure people understood his posting process.

All is good.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 07/12/13 at 02:09 PM ET

statelouis26's avatar

First, Kovalchuk signed a contract with the Devils, not the fans, so he doesn’t owe the fans a damn thing. Second, this deal was just as much of a decision by NJ (and the NHL) as it was Kovy’s, regardless of what the press and the Devils would like you to believe. It’s simply to convenient for all involved not to be. Kovy wants to jump ship presumably, but the Devils also get out from under that burdensome contract while facing financial doom and the NHL gets one of its kids out of trouble (how about that loan?). Fans should be disappointed but probably shouldn’t be screaming from the mountains that Kovy is a POS b/c he left 12years and 77M on the grill.

Posted by statelouis26 from Detroit, MI on 07/12/13 at 02:42 PM ET

Slumpy's avatar

I remember when this clown turned down the same amount of money that the Atlanta Thrashers were offering him. This guy is not a team player.
No respect for the Devils fans and not honoring his contract shows me this guy doesn’t think things through when making huge life altering decisions but rather waits til his wife (who must wear the pants in that relationship) starts wah-ing then he goes fetal position in yes dear mode as mother hammer comes down on his head.
Hope his wife whines about KHL club city he signs with and he ends up bouncing around russia rest of his career on her whim.

Burn your Kovy sweaters Devils fan or piss on them. The guy is a douche.

On the good side though the Devils only face a 250,000 yearly cap hit for him retiring.
This guys actions make Russian NHLer’s look bad imo and will affect future contracts and drafting greatly in general. The KHL’s tax free bag of money pay already has but this jerks decision is the turd on top of the sundae.

 

 

Posted by Slumpy from Detroit on 07/12/13 at 04:03 PM ET

Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit's avatar

My how things have changed. Who could have imagined players leaving North America to go Russia? Used to be the other way around.

Lets Go Red Wings!!!!!

Posted by Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit on 07/12/13 at 04:49 PM ET

John W.'s avatar

The angle that I’ve heard a lot of and think is an absolute joke is the ‘poor NJ got duped by Kovy leaving early/look at how much the contract cost them’ angle.  First off, no one forced NJ to offer a 17 and then 15 year deal.  The first round draft pick it cost the Devils was their own fault, not Kovalchuk’s.  And has been stated many times, the Devil’s are more than happy to get out from under that contract considering the money problems they have been having.  Second, while this was earlier than anyone expected, EVERYONE knew he was never going to fulfill that entire contract, nor would the Devils have wanted him to based on the rules when it was signed.  Would they really have wanted a $7M cap hit in the last years of the contract for a 40+ year old player only making $1M a year?  Of course not.  These super long-term contracts were always a gamble from the get-go, for the player and the team.

It’s kinda funny, Kovy is this horrible guy for voiding a contacrt with the ‘poor’ Devils and letting them recoup 70+ million dollars, yet I don’t recall anyone calling out the Habs or Flyers or Bolts for voiding contracts of these ‘poor’ players in the amnesty buyouts.  What’s the difference?  Players can retire to leave situations they don’t like just like teams can buy-out players to rid themselves of situations they don’t like.  It goes both ways.

Posted by John W. from a bubble wrap cocoon on 07/12/13 at 05:19 PM ET

Alan's avatar

I’m pretty sure part of this is a mutual agreement. Devils sign Kovalchuk to an absolute albatross contract while other teams were likely throwing themselves at his feet. Now, Jersey is broke.

Jersey shouldn’t have to toll anything. Why should they? This is being done the way they want. Do you think they really want to pay Kovy $11+ million for the next three seasons? Kovalchuk signed the retirement papers, and the contract has been voided. Big freakin’ deal. He wants to play back home? Why does that bother anyone here at all?

The way I see it, both sides have terminated the deal that was signed a few years ago, and the separation here is amicable (and welcome, from Jersey’s point of view).

Kovalchuk signed with a KHL team? Big deal. Anyone could do it. But OH NO HE’S RUSSIAN! XENOPHOBIA! OUTRAGE!

Excuse me, while I try to give a damn.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 07/12/13 at 05:41 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I like your posts because you’re my new favorite writer to disagree with.

Kovalchuk played Lou for a rube? Oh come on, man. Is this something you truly believe? I get the bellyaching about how he screwed the fans, but there’s a huge elephant in the room that you’re ignoring while crying about how Kovy is the reason Lamiorello’s covered in pachyderm shit.

The. Split. Was. Mutual.

You know that Standard Player’s contract Kovy signed? The one that poor old Lou got his team in trouble for signing the first time because he tried to so blatantly circumvent the CBA that they had to create an emergency rule-change in the dying days of the last agreement? Yeah, that little thing’s got a ton of wording about what the player owes to the club for playing his contract.

New Jersey let Kovalchuk retire and they didn’t have to. This isn’t a case where Kovy could have just held their feet to the fire and forced his way out. When he said he wanted to go, they had every legal right to tell him “tough shit, and now if you think not giving your all is going to get you out of this, you’ve got another thing coming.”

A player cannot simply retire from the NHL and join the KHL without the blessing of his team. That contract? Yeah, that thing gives the Devils the right to suspend him without pay and seek injunctive measures to prevent him from playing elsewhere. While they’re not likely to get a Russian court to accept that authority, the IIHF has acted again and again to force the NHL and KHL to agree to their memorandum of understanding.

Kovy tries to bolt without the blessing of sweet innocent Lou and he finds himself unable to play in the Sochi Olympics. Team Russia or the KHL tries to fight on this? How great would it be to see the home team sanctioned out of their own Olympics because the governing body is pissed at them?  That’s what we would have seen.

Except the Devils signed off on Kovalchuk leaving and they didn’t have to. They’re the one single team in the NHL who had the authority to prevent Kovalchuk’s departure and they chose not to use that authority.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/12/13 at 06:08 PM ET

Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit's avatar

Except the Devils signed off on Kovalchuk leaving and they didn’t have to. They’re the one single team in the NHL who had the authority to prevent Kovalchuk’s departure and they chose not to use that authority.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/12/13 at 07:08 PM ET


Exactly. The Devils got their due so to speak. Kovy got to go home.


Lets Go Red Wings!!!!!

Posted by Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit on 07/12/13 at 07:30 PM ET

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About Iced Coffey

Phil Coffey has covered the NHL since 1981, most recently as the Senior Editorial Director of NHL.com. He spent over 11 years there.