Ilya Kovalchuk shocked the hockey world yesterday, when he announced that he and the Devils had come to an agreement that would allow him to more or less retire from the National Hockey League, to pursue a career in the KHL with the team he suited up for during the lockout, SKA St. Petersburg. He was only three years into the controversially long 15 year contract that he signed in 2010 after leaving the Atlanta Thrashers.
Many had hinted for months that Kovalchuk never really wanted to come back to North America after the lockout had ended, and that this decision had been weighing on the superstar for some time... but wouldn't it have been better to announce this before the start of free agency, and allow the Devils to attempt to replace some of his offense? Not to mention the role his contract played in the decision to let Zach Parise walk to the Minnesota Wild.
But can you really say you blame Ilya Kovalchuk? Yes, 77 million dollars is an excessive amount of money, and yes he did have a very publicized battle to keep that ridiculously long contract that he signed just 3 years ago, but there's something to be said for the comforts of home. Throw in the very real money that the KHL can pony up, and wouldn't you do the same thing if roles were reversed? [Pucks and Pitchforks]
Should Dallas Stars fans re-affirm their fears that Valeri Nichushkin very well could jump ship and return to Russia at the drop of a hat, just like Kovalchuk did? I suppose the argument could be made, but I think that would be unfair to Nichushkin, who has shown nothing but a strong desire to play a starring role in the National Hockey League, and for the Dallas Stars franchise that believed enough in him to draft him. Still, Mike Heika takes a look at this debate over on his SportsDay blog. [Dallas Morning News]
While people are quick to compare Ilya Kovalchuk to Valeri Nichushkin south of the border, those north of the border seem to be under the impression that David Clarkson could be the next Wendel Clark for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Similarity in names aside, they both play a physically imposing game from the wing... but in Toronto, for this generation of hockey fans, there are no bigger shoes to fill than those of Big Bad Wendel Clark. [Globe and Mail]
Also over at the Dallas Morning News, Rick Gosselin continues the narrative that our beloved hockey team is simply turning into the Dallas Green Wings, as they collect both personnel and philosophical traits from the hated Detroit Red Wings. As I've said many times before, there are certainly worse organizations to emulate, so I don't see the issue. [Dallas Morning News]
The Carolina Hurricanes have been making news lately by hinting at a mystery free agent catch, that they've supposedly already reached an agreement with, but are waiting to clear salary cap space before finalizing. Supposedly it is a player that came to Carolina, told them they'd take a pay cut and a one-year deal, just to play for the Hurricanes. Some have speculated that it could be newly crowned Dallas folk-hero Jaromir Jagr... but maybe not. [SBNation]
Before I close out links for the day, I've got a message from our very own Trevor Sudbury about two group outings that Defending Big D have put together for next season.
We have the final pricing information for the Defending Big D group parties for the upcoming season. The final price is $100 per person -- This total price includes a ticket to both the Modano number retirement game, and the second game yet to be scheduled. The gate price for a premium game (like Modano night) would normally be priced around $92 for our section, so this is an incredible savings. It essentially means we get seats to a second game for only $8. We will have more details next week once the schedule is released, when we can choose a date for the second game.
Today's video is a bit of nostalgia for hockey gaming nerds like myself. NHL 14 marks the 20th anniversary of the EA Sports hockey franchise's biggest cult hit, NHL 94. In honor of the anniversary, they've put in an entire game mode that pays tribute to the iconic title's simplicity and cheesy fun.