Devils winger Ilya Kovalchuk to play in Russia during lockout
Newark, NJ, United States (4E Sports) – New Jersey Devils superstar winger Ilya Kovalchuk will see action in the Kontinental Hockey League in his native Russia during the NHL lockout.
Kovalchuk’s agent said the 29-year-old player has agreed to play for SKA St. Petersburg starting Sept. 23, adding his name to the list of marquee players who decided to play overseas during the lockout.
In the KHL, Kovalchuk will join Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin and Ottawa Senators defenseman Sergei Gonchar, who both signed with Metallurg even before the lockout was formally announced Saturday.
Meanwhile, New York Islanders defenseman Mark Streit is headed to his native Switzerland to play with his hometown team in Bern.
Kovalchuk and other NHL stars have signed a deal with an opt-out clause, which allows them to return home once the lockout ends.
Kovalchuk, who led the Devils with 83 points (37 goals, 46 assists) last season, has a 15-year, $100 million contract with New Jersey that he signed in 2010.
With players moving overseas, there is little hope that the NHL season will begin on time as the league and players union try to come up with a new collective bargaining agreement.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr had several informal discussions since the lockout but no formal meetings have been scheduled.
The NHL has imposed a league-wide lockout for the second time in eight years after the league and its players failed to come up with a new labor deal.
In a last-ditch effort, the players union tried to convince the league to continue talks but was rejected, paving the way for the work stoppage which last occurred during the 2004-05 season.