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Having Any Second Thoughts?

08/31/2010 at 11:02pm EDT

The fact that the Ilya Kovalchuk impasse will drag out at least another day shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. It would have been naive (read: I was naive) to believe reports that an answer would come from the League today.

This will-he-or-won’t-he question has lingered since the superstar left winger was traded to New Jersey in February. It stayed unanswered through weeks of courtship from the Kings and Devils in July and it could remain that way—God, forbid—if this contract is dismissed once again by the suits on Sixth Avenue.

Somehow, it doesn’t seem like that will be the case this time.

If Nick Kypreos was right on Monday, and this new deal really is two years shorter and more reasonably spread out in terms of payout, this might finally all be over.

But, how do Devils fans feel about that?

Have any doubts crept up in these 63 days?

For nearly two decades, the New Jersey Devils have been one of the National Hockey League’s model franchises. They’ve done so by being blue-collar, workmanlike and with few peers in terms of success. No frills, just results.

This signing, which flies in the face of everything Lou Lamoriello has stood for over the last 23 years, will define the franchise for the foreseeable future.

There’s no doubt that he makes New Jersey a more skillful, entertaining team.

The question is: Can Ilya do what success—in the form of three Stanley Cups, four conference championships and 10 division titles—never did?

Can he fill the building on a nightly basis? Can he make Newark the East Coast’s very own Hockeytown?

Or will Devils fans come to look back on this summer with regret? I’m hoping for the former, but I’m not so sure.

An answer on whether Ilya Kovalchuk will be a New Jersey Devil will likely come tomorrow.

Those other answers are going to take a bit more time.

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