Friday, February 26, 2010

Mikael Samuelsson Talks To NHLPA.com About Triple Gold Club Honor

Mikeael Samuelsson talks to Ryan Parker of NHLPA.com about the honor of being a Triple Gold Club Member.

To view the video please visit this link.

Ottawa Senators Happy To Have Volchenkov Back

Toronto Sun February 25, 2010

They’re just glad their boys will be home safe and sound.

GM Bryan Murray and coach Cory Clouston said they would have been happy to see any one of Daniel Alfredsson (Sweden), Anton Volchenkov (Russia), Milan Michalek and Filip Kuba (Czech Republic) win a medal, but neither is upset Jarkko Ruutu (Finland) is the last Senator playing in the Olympics.

With their respective countries eliminated from the Olympics, Alfredsson, Volchenkov, Michalek and Kuba aren’t due back to practice until Sunday or Monday.


To view the Toronto Sun article in its entirety, please visit this link.

Sergei Shirokov Scores 18th of The Season as Moose Beat Aeros

OSC February 25, 2010

The Manitoba Moose topped the Houston Aeros 3-2 on Thursday night to close-out their four-game regular season series against the club at the Toyota Center. Manitoba finished with an even 2-2-0-0 record against Houston this campaign. Sergei Shirokov, Michael Grabner and Pierre-Cedric Labrie all notched goals for the Moose while Cory Schneider stopped 26 of 28 shots in his 25th victory this season.

To view the OSC article in its entirety, please visit this link.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Alexander Radulov Has Become More Complete and Mature Player In The KHL

Check out The Fourth Period's 2-24-2010 piece entitled "Predators holding out hope for Radulov".

Preadtors GM David Poile told the paper he has spoken to Radulov, who left Nashville to play in the Russian KHL two summers ago.

"I've seen him a couple of times and our conversations are fine, but there have been no conversations about the future at all," Poile said. "That ball is in his court. We've well established that if there is going to be an overture about him coming back to Nashville, he'll be the one to make it. We initiated all the overtures last year, so it's in his court."

Radulov has one-year remaining on his KHL contract. Since leaving for Russia, Poile admits he's become "a more complete player."

"Radulov has definitely matured as a player," said TFP Editor-in-Chief David Pagnotta, who saw the 23-year-old in action last month while traveling across the KHL. "He's still a very potent, offensive athlete, and he's learned to work hard at both ends of the rink."


To view The Fourth Periods' piece in its entirety, please visit this link.

Perttu Lindgren Providing Extra Farm Depth For Stars May Give Way To Trade

Dallas News.com reported on Mike Heika's piece that salary concerns and a wealth of options could lead the Dallas Stars to trade center Mike Ribeiro. Among the individuals Heika pointed to as replacements at center, Perttu Lindgren of the AHL's Texas Stars could be a possibility.

I believe Ribeiro is a reasonably priced second-line center when he is playing well. But with players such as Tom Wandell, Jamie Benn, Aaron Gagnon, Perttu Lindgren, Ondrej Roman and Tomas Vincour as possible centers, maybe the Stars would be willing to take a chance and move Ribeiro for a defenseman.

To see the Dallas News.com piece in its entirety, please visit this link.

Shirokov Scores In Return From Trip To Vancouver

Manitoba Moose winger Sergei Shirokov connected for his 17th goal of the season in a 4-3 loss to Toronto on Wednesday night. The 2010 AHL All Star was returning from a trip to Vancouver on behalf of the Russian Olympic Federation.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Check out Preds on the Glass interview with Pekka Rinne

Thanks to Agent Jay Grossman for setting up an interview with Pred's Goalie Pekka Rinne this afternoon after he signed his new two-year $6.8 million contract.

Pekka was obviously excited and relieved, and ready to get back to work on the ice. It is an interesting, wide-ranging interview that even includes a story about Pekka playing a little pond hockey last week in Finland while on vacation and a preview of his outfit for the Predator's Gala tonight.

Predators ink Rinne to a two-year, $6.8M deal

The Nashville Predators have seemingly picked their goaltender going forward.

TSN has confirmed that the club has signed Pekka Rinne to a two-year, $6.8 million contract. The deal will reportedly pay Rinne $2.8 million in 2010-11, and $4 million in 2011-12.

The move keeps Rinne from reaching unrestricted free agency.

Continue Reading: http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=311320

Atlanta Goalie Johan Hedberg on NHL Live 12 PM to 2 PM

Ilya Kovalchuk's Visa 2010 Vancouver Olympics Commercial

video

Check out this pretty cool Visa/2010 Vancouver Olympics spot with NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.

Predators Take Wait and See Stance on Radulov

From RotoWorld.com 2-24-2010

"I've seen him a cou­ple of times and our con­ver­sa­tions are fine, but there have been no con­ver­sa­tions about the future at all," general manager David Poile said. "That ball is in his court. We've well esta­blished that if there is going to be an over­ture about him coming back to Nash­vi­lle, he'll be the one to make it. We ini­tia­ted all the over­tu­res last year, so it's in his court." Radulov is currently representing Russia at the Winter Olympics and is enjoying a productive year with Ufa Salavat Yulayev (22 goals and 57 points in 51 games).

Alexei Morozov Is Confident In Russian Team and Believes Canada Has Weaknesses

Tatar-inform "Alexei Morozov believes Canadians have chink in their armour" 2-24-2010

Captain of the Russian team and Kazan’s HC Ak Bars Alexei Morozov answered journalists’ questions after a training session at Britannia Centre.

According to Morozov’s words, the quarter final stage versus Canada at the Olympics-2010 shouldn’t be considered a preschedule final. “It is totally not true. But every match is like a new final for our team. Tomorrow will be a new day, a new match and a new rival. We don’t think about who it will be. The main thing is not to be afraid of the opponents, but we can respect them,” Sport-Express quotes the captain as saying.

Answering the question about Canadians’ weak points, Morozov said: “Any team, including Canada, have weak points.”

Russians Still Looking To Hit Stride: Volchenkov's Defense Could Be Difference Maker

GenXXXL breaks down the Russian team in anticipation of the 2010 Olympic quarter-finals game between the Canada and Russia. In particular, GenXXXL believes that the Russian blueline and defencemen Anton Volchenkov could be a difference maker.

The complete counter to Gonchar would be Anton Volchenkov. Where Gonchar is flash and dash, joining the rush to tip the offensive scales in favor of his team, Volchenkov is a stay at home defenseman.

He is consistently among the league leaders in blocked shots and is considered one of the toughest players in the league. He has won gold at the World Junior Championships, plus gold and silver at the World Cup. This will be his second Olympic appearance in his career.


To review GenXXXL's piece in its entirety, please follow this link.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

KHL President Alexander Medev Planning To Offer Kovalchuk "Good Offer"

Adam Thompson The Wall Street Journal 2-23-2010

"On the topic of star Russian Alex Ovechkin returning in his prime to the KHL, Mr. Medvedev indicated he would honor his contract, which runs through 2020-21. But he's got his eye on New Jersey Devils sniper and Russian Olympian Ilya Kovalchuk (above): "When [Ovechkin's] contract would expire, we could make him a good offer, like we're planning to do with Kovalchuk."

THE VISIT: Sergei Shirokov at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver as a guest of the Russian delegation.

THE VISIT: Moose forward Sergei Shirokov spent Sunday and Monday at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver as a guest of the Russian delegation.

“They wanted him to be part of those surroundings,” said Arniel. “It was a nice gesture by the Russian federation.”

Monday, February 22, 2010

Evengy Dadonov Shootout Goal Helps Lift Americans over Pirates

The Portland Pirates had an eleven game winning streak going into Sunday's game against the Rochester Americans. Mike York scored with 1.3 seconds remaining in regulation and had the deciding goal in the shootout to give the Americans a 3-2 victory over the scorching Pirates. Evengy Dadonov and Jamie Johnson also scored for the Americans in the shootout.

Volchenkov, Russia get best of Czechs

On Sunday Russia won their Olympic group in a 4-2 victory over the Czech Republic. Evengi Malkin netted two goals for the Russians and defencemen Anton Volchenkov helped hold down the fort by slowing down the previously unbeaten Czechs.

To read more about the Russian's win on Sunday and Anton Volchenkov's stellar play, please visit this link.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Olympics » Ilya Kovalchuk: "At the Olympics you should shove your 'I' up a certain place"

Ilya Kovalchuk talked about the bad powerplay of team Russia in the 2010 Olympic Hockey Tournament, the changes that the team will undergo for the next game against Czech Republic and his ice time in an interview to the Russian newspaper Sovietskiy Sport.


Continue Reading: http://www.russianhockeyfans.com/team-russia/ilya-kovalchuk-at-the-olympics-you-should-shove-your-i-up-a-certain-place-148.html

Friday, February 19, 2010

Rinne or Ellis? Tough Choices in Nashville

...The Predators have goalies Pekka Rinne and Dan Ellis who are both set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1. GM David Poile has expressed interest in keeping them both but it’s more likely the small-market Predators will eventually be forced to make a decision
The team has been in New York this week, during a stretch of games against the Islanders, Rangers and Devils and the trip has given Poile and Rinne an opportunity to meet separately with Rinne’s agent Jay Grossman of the New York-based Puck Agency, LLC.

CONTINUE READING: http://www.sportingnews.com/blog/The_Grinder/entry/view/55538

Kings fans happy with Kovalchuk decision

TFP Columnist Dennis Bernstein, based in Los Angeles, explores the psyche of the Kings' fan base.

[LOS ANGELES, CA] -- Although March 3 is the NHL trade deadline, the deal that will stand to be the biggest of this season was consummated 27 days earlier.

A few weeks ago, the hockey earth moved in the Deep South when Ilya Kovalchuk was extracted from a 7-and-a-half year sentence of hard labor in the Peach State.

While it's hard to imagine that the gritty destination of Newark, N.J. would be a safe harbor for anyone, much less one of the world's best (but not THE best) hockey players, Kovalchuk expressed happiness to join the perennial contender.

Continue Reading: http://thefourthperiod.com/columnists/bernstein100218.html

Mikael Samuelsson Among 22 Triple Gold Club Members To Be Honored

Vancouver Cancuck Mikael Samuelsson among the 22 Triple Gold Club Members to be honored Monday February 22. For official info, please see below.

The IIHF invites members of the media to the Triple Gold Club Induction Ceremony on Monday, February 22, at the Molson Canadian Hockey House.

Sixteen years after Tomas Jonsson, Mats Naslund and Hakan Loob became the first players to earn the exclusive membership, the Triple Gold Club has grown to include 22 players from four nations (Sweden, Russia, Canada and the Czech Republic). They will be ceremonially inducted on February 22 in Vancouver during the XXI Olympic Winter Games.

The Triple Gold Club admits players who have won the Olympic ice hockey gold, the IIHF World Championship gold and the Stanley Cup.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Great Ambassador: Ilya Kovalchuk

Great piece by Michelle Kenneth at Inside Hockey on Ilya Kovalchuk and his Olympic play. To read Michelle's piece in its entirety, please visit this link.

The newest member to the New Jersey Devils, Ilya Kovalchuk, is participating in his third Olympics. He was only 18 years old when he was first selected to represent Russia.

“Probably the first one,” he said of his favorite Olympic memory. “I was 18 years old and we got so many great players and we won the bronze medal. It was kind of exciting.

"It’s always nice when you win. But now, I’m a little older, I have a little more experience. We won two World Cup Championships with the national team. We’ve got a great atmosphere in the locker room. It will be very interesting. We’ve got a great chance to play really well.”

After all, he’s representing the country that almost every country in the world considers their biggest rivalry.

Sergei Shirokov's Impressive Season Continues

Sergei Shirokov continued to shine with the AHL Manitoba Moose as the Russian winger scored on Wednesday night against the Toronto Marlies. The 2010 AHL All Star has looked impressive all year and has 17 goals and 35 points for the season.

The NHL's Best Wingers: Ilya Kovalchuk

Nice analysis by Christian at NA Sports on Ilya Kovalchuk and the top wingers in the game today.

Once one of the leagues more one dimensional players, New Jersey Devil Ilya Kovalchuk is in the top two of the league’s best wingers. Dominant offensively, lightning quick and crucial to any side he plays in Kovalchuk consistently scores at an elite level. On course for 44 goals, ‘Kovy’ has not scored less than 40 goals in a full NHL season since before the lockout when he ‘only’ scored 38. Prior to his trade this year had seen Kovalchuk become a leader in Atlanta which may have coincided with the clubs improvement on the ice. With 325 goals already in his career (at just 26) the only significant thing missing for Kovalchuk is playoff success. Now on a strong Jersey team following that trade, Kovy may get the post season success his regular season play warrants. One final comment; with Parise AND Kovalchuk bearing down on goalies together, how scary do the Devils now look?

To see Christians article in its entirety, please visit this link.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Strong Play By Morozov Reignites Talk About Move Back to NHL

Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette discusses the possibility of KHL star and Russian National Team Captain Alexei Morozov returning the NHL.

To read Dave's February 17, 2010 column, please visit this link.

Kovalchuk, Radulov and Morozov Score in 8-2 Russian Route of Latvia

The Russian hockey team showed the world why they were are favorites to win gold in Vancouver, as they pummeled Latvia 8-2 on Tuesday.

Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexander Radulov, and Alexei Morozov were among the seven Russian players that scored against Latvia.

To read more on the Russian's win, please visit this link.

Binghamton Senators' Daugavins savors Olympic opportunity

Latvia is not particularly known for its international sports prowess, but don't tell that to AHL Binghamton Senator and Latvia native Kaspars Daugavins. Daugavins admits that Latvia has traditionally not stacked well against global hockey powerhouses such as Canada and Russia, but none the less, he believes his home country has the best fans ever.

To read Michael Sharp's excellent February 15, 2010 piece on Kaspars Duagavins and Latvia's Olympic hopes, please visit this link.

St. Louis Blues Showed Interest in Ilya Kovalchuk Before Trade

Jeremy Rutherford of St. Louis Today.com wrote in his February 2, 2010 morning skate that Blues President John Davidson had "legitimate interest" in trading for winger Ilya Kovalchuk before he was traded to New Jersey. Davidson is on record by stating, "We [The Blues] had been working at it for the better part of the week...We had great conversations with Atlanta. We talked to them about various thoughts and ideas and put (a trade proposal) together. It never came to fruition.”

Davidson further stated that, “When you make a deal like that, if it’s really a magnitude coming out of your bank account, you’ve got to try to make sure that he signs...And that (permission to discuss a contract extension before a trade) was never given to any team that was in the battle trying to get him. So we just couldn’t afford to go the extra mile.”

The St. Louis President reiterated that if the Blues were able at the tim eto succesfully negotiate an extension with Ilya Kovalchuk, they would have been more likely to match Atlanta's trade demands.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Anton Babchuk: Another Solid Year in the KHL

Bob Hardwood Waeghe of Canes Country examines Anton Babchuk's strong year in the KHL.

"Ex-Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Anton Babchuk is having a very good season over in the KHL. His statline is (46GP 9G 13A 22P +17) and he recently made the KHL All Star team, (and scored a goal in that contest)."

To read Bob's article in full, please visit this link.

Alexei Morozov officially declared Russian national hockey team’s captain in Vancouver

Congratulations to Alexei Morozov who was just named the Russian national team ice hockey captain and will be celebrating his 33rd birthday!

Alexei Morozov (HC Ak Bars) was the Russian delegation’s banner bearer at the opening ceremony of the Olympics-2010 and captain at the two world championships in Quebeck-2008 and Bern-2009, which brought the national team victories.

Radulov and Morozov Part of KHL Line That Brings Back Memories of 1972 Soviet Kid Line


Nice piece by Joe Pelletier at Greatest Hockey Legends.com refuting the criticism regarding KHL player's on the Russian national team. Pelletier believes that the Russian's have one of the deepest lines in years, and the result could lead to Olympic gold.

"Many of them (I won't name names, although there is one popular Team 1040 Vancouver radio host I would love to call out) will try telling you that KHL players are the weakness on the team and will lead to their downfall. They are not the same caliber as Russian NHLers left off the team with the name of Alexander Frolov from Los Angeles most commonly mentioned. That 4th line of NHL unknowns in particular is weak.

Wrong. Wrong! WRONG!

Fedorov needs no introduction. He will be the versatile forward and veteran leader this team needs. Radulov is yet another a pure sniper, like the Russians lack that. And Kozlov, well I don't know anyone who is a big fan of him, but he does provide a big body presence that they will need against Canada."

Then there is the KHL's greatest line of Zaripov, Zinoviev and Morozov. It doesn't take a lot of research to find out what these three have accomplished together. They may appear to be Russia's 4th line, but in reality they are 4th offensive juggernaut. And since most of us have never seen them in action, they are a true surprise attack. I especially like Zinoviev, who is a classic Russian centerman, elegant and economical, excellent defensively and at distributing the puck."

To view Joe's piece in its entirety, please visit this link.

Anssi Salmela Back and Ready To Go

Richard Chere The New Jersey Star Ledger 2-13-2010

"The Devils will get defenseman Anssi Salmela back after he missed two games with a concussion. Salmela was knocked unconscious by a hit from Flyers forward Jeff Carter last Monday.

Salmela said there was no definitive evidence that he suffered a concussion, althought it is likely he did.

"There was nothing on the pictures," he said, "but I was kind of out for a while. It was nothing major. I'm not concerned."

To read Richard's full piece, please visit this link.

Kovy Scores First Goal As Devil: Hints At More To Come


Kristie Ackert from the New York Daily News 2-13-2010

"AS ILYA KOVALCHUK let out a week's worth of frustration with a scream, hats rained down on the ice at the Rock. The Devils newly acquired left wing had scored only one goal, but it was his first as a Devil, a rare third one on Friday for the slumping Devils and the game-winner in a 5-2 win over the Predators in front of a sold-out crowd in Newark.

Afterward, Kovalchuk said he owed the fans a few more goals for the tribute usually reserved for a three-goal night.

"Maybe next time I get a hat trick for them," Kovalchuk said. "But this one felt really good."

To read Kristie's piece in its entirety, please visit this link.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Coming Down The Pipe!: Sergei Shirokov Buzz Worthy Prospect

Check out Guy Flamings 2-10-2010 post on Vancouver Canucks Prospects

Buzz Worthy: Sergei Shirokov
Manitoba Moose (AHL)
HT: 5'10 WT: 175 Lbs Stats: 50GP 16-18-34 Pts

Was it much ado about nothing? Sergei Shirokov's arrival in North America had Cancuks fans giddy with excitement but when he failed to make the NHL roster out of camp that buzz was reduced to a tremor. Still, Shirokov has played well on the farm and earned his spot at the AHL All-Star game where he scored two of Planet USA's 9 goals in a 10-9 loss. There's no question that the player is talented and in the long run, a stint in the AHL might prove to have been the best thing for him. Considering the growing trend of Russians returning to their homeland rather than playing in the AHL, one has to wonder what would happen next year if Shirkov again fails to crack the NHL roster. There's also a 20-pound difference between the AHL and NHL roster reports for the Russian's.

Sens Volchenkov Major Reason For Ottawa Claiming Top Spot in Northwest

Check out Tim Warnsby's 2-12-2010 CBC article on the top 5 reasons why the Senators sit atop the Northeast standings

...There are many reasons for the Ottawa Senators' rise in the NHL Eastern Conference standings and their move into first place in the Northeast Division.

Goalie Brian Elliott has been spot on. They have received scoring from throughout the lineup. Defencemen Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov have regained their form as one of the top shutdown pairings in the league.

Jason Spezza also has been on fire for the Senators, who have won 13 of their past 14 games. Spezza has scored 12 goals and 17 points in his past 14 games, including three game-winning goals.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Olympic Prediction: Volchenkov Big Part of Russian Gold

Star Tribune hockey writer Michael Russo breaks down his prediction on why he thinks the Russians will take gold during the Vancouver Olympics. Russo believes the solid play of defensemen Anton Volchenkov will play a large role in a Russian victory.


Anton Volchenkov is one of the NHL's best shutdown defensemen and six or seven times a year clobbers somebody you're afraid will never get up.


To see Michael's article in full, please visit this link.

Ilya Amps Up NY Hockey Scene

Great article by Jay Greenberg at The American Chronicle about what Ilya Kovalchuk has brought to the New York ice hockey scene.

"[Kovalchuk] is a gamebreaker like Gaborik," Lemaire said. "I think [Kovalchuk] has better skills to beat people one-on-one.

To see Jay's article in full, please follow this link.

Kaspars Daugavins X Factor at 2010 Olympics for Latvians

Thanks to the Red Light District Blog for posting this 2010 Olympic analysis


X-Factor: F Kaspars Daugavins
The Binghamton Senator is having a solid season, but will have to find the score-sheet a lot for the Latvians to be remotely competitive.

Team Outlook:
The Latvians have some of the more rabid hockey fans, but they may not be cheering much once the games start next week. Latvia was unfortunately put in the ‘group of death’, which could result in them not getting a ‘W’ in these Winter Games. They only have two current NHLers, and the rest of the roster is relatively inexperienced at the international level. Any win would be a shocker, really, as their prelims include three legit medal contenders.

Pekka Rinne Could See Name Appear Around The Deadline

Thanks to our friends at The Fourth Period for this article on potential movement by the Nashville Predators around the NHL trade deadline.


It's uncertain which direction the Predators will take at the trade deadline, but the Nashville Tennessean reports the team could be quite active.

According to the paper, the Predators have to decide whether they will add to their lineup for a playoff run, or trade away some of their potential unrestricted free agents like defenseman Dan Hamhuis and one of goalies Dan Ellis or Pekka Rinne.

The Tennessean suggests the Predators aren't likely to acquire any big name players, but coach Barry Trotz sees the advantage of making a move.

"We could use a tweak or two," Trotz told the paper. "We're actually scoring more goals than people thought we'd score, but we're giving up a little more than what we want ... So maybe a veteran penalty-killer or a real good faceoff guy, or maybe a guy that's produced a little bit more (offensively)."

The Predators could be interested in such players as Carolina's Matt Cullen, Edmonton's Fernando Pisani, Toronto's Alexei Ponikarovsky, and Columbus' Raffi Torres.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

NJ Devils defenseman Anssi Salmela, knocked unconscious, can't remember goal

Best of luck and speedy recovery to Anssi Salmela who suffered a concussion after scoring a short handed goal 60 seconds into the second period during the Sunday game between the Devils and the Philadelphia Flyers. After the game Salmela was able to speak to reporters, but was some what disoriented.

To read more about about Anssi Salmela, please follow this link.

Alexander Radulov Among Several Nashville Predators at 2010 Olympics

From Jim Diamond, Nashville Predators-NHL.com, 02/08/2010

"Two European-based Nashville prospects were named to their countries’ Olympic teams as well, but it appears that one may not make the trip to North America. Alexander Radulov will represent Russia, but Roman Josi’s availability for Switzerland is in serious doubt. Radulov currently plays for Salavat Yulaev Ufa of the Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League, and Josi for SC Bern of the Swiss League. In January, Josi sustained a broken finger at the World Junior Championships. He has been cleared to return the ice next week, but having been sidelined for more a month, Swiss head coach Ralph Kruger has indicated that Josi will remain in Europe."

Kovalchuk getting acclimated in New Jersey

The trade for star winger Ilya Kovalchuk caught most hockey fans off guard. The offensive minded sniper came to a New Jersey Devils team that is best known for its defense and is ranked 22nd in the NHL in offense. Kovalchuk's high powered offensive game has been welcomed to the Meadowlands, and immediately paid dividends as "Kovy" assisted twice in a 4-2 victory over the Toronto Maple leaves on Saturday. However since his Devils debut, Kovalchuk has yet to score, an issue coach Jacques Lamaire and fellow teammate Martin Brodeur think will be solved over time.

To read more about Ilya Kovalkchuk's transition to the New Jersey Devils, please follow this link.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Dmitry Chesnokov's Exclusive Puck Daddy Ilya Kovalhuk Interview About Blockbuster Trade


Thanks to our friend Dmitry Chesnokov and Puck Daddy at Yahoo! for this great interview



On Thursday, Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) boarded a plane with the Atlanta Thrashers for a game in D.C. against the Washington Capitals on Friday. Little did he know that by the end of the day, he'd be closer to contending for the Stanley Cup than he's ever been in his NHL career.

Let's face it: Playing for the New Jersey Devils, from a hockey standpoint, is a great opportunity for Kovalchuk to show what he can really do. As for the reasons why his time with the Thrashers ended, I'll analyze them at the end of this interview.

Kovalchuk flew to New Jersey from Washington late Thursday night to join his new team. After a busy morning, I caught up with him to chat about the trade and his future, for at least a few months, with the Devils.

"I was told two days ago that I would be traded. So, I have to say that I was ready for it. I was told, however, that I was going to Washington to play for Atlanta. That's why I didn't pack anything with me," Kovalchuk said. "And it turned out that I was traded. I came to New Jersey only with my wallet. No clothes! That's why I have to pick some time in this busy schedule to travel to Atlanta to pick up at least some of my clothes."

Q. Does that mean you don't even have your equipment with you?

KOVALCHUK: My equipment was sent to me. I have already got new gloves, which do not have Atlanta's covers. But I want my old ones to be sent to me.

Did you have any say at all in where you would be going?

No, not at all. I did not have a choice to pick any team. But I am happy I was traded to New Jersey. It's a very good team that won Stanley Cups. And right now there is only one goal for the team -- it is to win the Cup. It's a great chance for me.

It has to be a new feeling for you to be on a team that is second in the Eastern Conference and is considered a real contender for the Cup with real expectations.

It's a good challenge to have. It's always a great feeling to play for a good team. I don't want to say that Atlanta was a bad team. But there was always something missing, there was just something we didn't have. The organization here is simply first class. Everything is at the highest level. And the goal is set at not just making the playoffs, but to actually win the Cup. I have my first game with the club today, and there is another one tomorrow. I am going to try to enjoy this moment.

I am sure this has been a very busy day for you. Have you followed the coverage of your trade in the media and what was said?

No, I am not following it. It's in the past now. Why start throwing punches after the fight is over?

Don Waddell said you weren't concerned about the future of the franchise in your decision: "I don't think so. If we would have paid him the max amount, he would have signed the contract."

[With a sigh] Everyone has their own opinion. I can only say that I always thought of fans. That's why I was trying my best, I was giving my best at every practice, every game, every shift. It's silly to talk about it.

A lot of fans talk about your interviews in the past when you stated your desire to stay with Atlanta. Maybe there is something you want to tell them?

What can I say other than to thank them? I want to thank them for treating me really well. I tried to repay by showing my best hockey in every game. I really did give that 100 percent, 110 percent. That's why I can honestly look them in their eyes. I think they should also realize that life doesn't stand still, that the Thrashers have a lot of good, talented guys, who, God willing, will take the team to the playoffs and will compete for the Stanley Cup.

Can you talk a little bit about the reasons why staying in Atlanta didn't work out?

We just couldn't agree on certain things. To be honest, I don't want to go back and discuss what could have been. It's all in the past now. You can't bring it back, you can't turn back the clock. I live today. And today I am happy that I am a New Jersey Devil.

You were drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers and played there for eight years. I bet you felt at home in Atlanta. What are your feelings now that you have to sort of start all over?

Of course eight years is a huge amount of time. My son was born in Atlanta. My house is there. I am not planning on selling my house. I will go back there every offseason. I am going to keep coming to Atlanta because it is a great city that I can call my second home now. I will always have the best memories of the city. I still have a lot of friends there. That's why I will keep coming back to Atlanta.

Did you have a farewell dinner with your now former teammates? What did they tell you?

I didn't have a farewell dinner as such. It's just when the guys found out about the trade, they came over and we went out. What did they say? They just said it was a shame. I also wished them the best of luck. But as I said before, life doesn't stand still.

What about the new guys who came over before the start of this season, like Max Afinogenov, who you will play with in Vancouver in a couple of weeks? Did he get upset?

I think you'd have to ask them. But, of course, I think we all got upset, because we liked playing together. But what can you do? It's business and no one is insured against being traded. You just never know.

You're right. No one is insured against that. But you were the team captain, a franchise player. I don't think even the Hossa trade had the same implication as yours. It is an opinion of a lot of people that the franchise may not survive this.

I would sincerely want everything to turn out fine for them. As I mentioned, they have a lot of talented guys who may just raise their level now and start playing even better.

What about your new teammates? Do you know who you will play on the same line with?

No, not yet. I was told I would find out before the game. I practiced with Jamie Langenbrunner(notes) and Dainus Zubrus. That's the way it was for now. But they said they still were not sure what the lines would be, because Jacques Lemaire likes to change lines. I will find out right before the game who I will play with.

Did you have a conversation with Jacques Lemaire yet? If so, what did he tell you?

He welcomed me to New Jersey. He told me the club was very happy to have me with them. I was told about the system the team plays and that I should fit well here.

Are you ready for that system? I don't think the Devils had an offensive player of your caliber in at least some time.

Hockey is not a show of one actor. This is a team sport. I won't try to change my game, I will just try to do my best to help my team win.

A lot of Russian players who played for the Devils never really showed anything remarkable with New Jersey. Apart from Sergei Brylin(notes), maybe. Is this something you thought about?


I never really thought about it. But the Devils have a lot of good players. In any case, time will tell. We'll see. There is nothing to discuss now. We're just trying to see the future in coffee grounds.

Has this trade affected you negatively at all? Maybe unsettled you before the Olympics?


Negatively? Not at all. Quite the opposite. I feel great. I am getting ready for games just like I used to. I am just looking forward to playing my first game with the new team.



My opinion on Kovalchuk's trade ...

While everyone is blinded by the $101 million and the $70 million offers that were on the table and approved by the owners, one has to look a bit deeper.

The ownership of the Thrashers have been battling each other in court for a few years. The uncertainty of the owners was one of the reasons the negotiation was postponed for two months following the initial contract talks between Kovalchuk and the club in October. The money simply wasn't there. With all due respect, attendance wasn't there, either.

The Thrashers' revenue is second worst only behind the Phoenix Coyotes. That also means that the money wasn't there to make a commitment. Blaming Ilya for holding the team to a ransom and the inability to sign players due to the alleged cap hit doesn't really hold water. The Thrashers have never spent up to the cap. Is there credibility to even mention the cap when you have never been close to it?

(Ed. Note: According to Ben Wright of the Thrashers, in the "first season of this ownership" they exceeded the cap and almost hit it in 2006/2007 with the Keith Tkachuk(notes) and Alexei Zhitnik(notes) deals.)

Unlike the Coyotes, I simply don't see the NHL stepping in to bail out the franchise in the very near future.

I don't think you can really expect the return for Kovalchuk to be even close to fair. The Thrashers traded 17.76 percent of their entire goal total in the last five years. More likely than not, they won't get those numbers from all players combined that were sent from the Devils to Georgia. Kovalchuk was the team captain. Who can forget the horrible losing streak the team posted after the "impasse" reports surfaced a few months ago?

Kovalchuk meant more to the team than most want to admit.

Atlanta fans deserve better.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Anssi Salmela knew he'd be back with NJ Devils some day

It wasn't too long ago that defensemen Anssi Salmela was wearing black and red, but even when he was traded to Atlanta in March of last year, Salmela had a feeling he would be back to the Garden State. Yesterday Salmela was part of the mega trade that brought Ilya Kovalchuk to New Jersey, a surprise for some, but not for Salmela. Always believing he had a chance to return, Salmela reiterated that, "[The Devils] organization likes to bring a lot of guys back. I played a bit here last time and I think everything went good." Devils coach Jacques Lemaire was also positive about Salmela's return stating, "I think [Anssi is] going to fit well. He's a mobile defenseman, has a decent shot, can move the puck and has that offensive ability that he could bring on at different times, which we need. Obviously."

Vet Chris Taylor Not Worried About Scoring Slump

Chris Taylor's 18 year professional hockey career has taught him enough to realize scoring slumps come and go. The Rochester Amerks center does not have a goal in his last nine games. Despite the drought, Rochester coach Benoit Groulx's confidence in Taylor has not fallen. Groulx commented that, "Five-on-five [Taylor] has been a very reliable player...I don't think he's gone down hill at all." Taylor himself believes that the scoring slump has more to do with his evolving role on the team. When he was a point-a-game player and led the team in scoring three times in a four-year span (2001-02, '02-03 and '04-05), he was the No. 1 center on the power play and first over the boards when the team needed a goal. This season, Jamie Johnson has been centering the No. 1 scoring line and Taylor has been used as much in a defensive role as he has for his scoring.

Pekka Rinne Impressive Again In 5-3 Win Over Colorado


Pekka Rinne came up big in net stopping 23 of 26 Avalanche shots, several on odd man situations in a 5-3

Zubov: I am a hockey player, not politician!

Check Out Sergey Zubov's Recent Statement On His Decision To Not Participate During The 2010 Vancouver Olympics As A Reserve

“...I have been reading articles in mass media for these six days, read commentaries and online blogs. I was surprised that fans responded to my announcement aggressively, but most of all I was sad that atmosphere of the national team’s preparations for the Olympics had been disturbed...I am not a politician, I am hockey player and I don’t predict all my public moves unlike hockey ones. Moreover I haven’t lived in Russia for a long time and I haven’t restored my vocabulary yet...I think that most probably I was right except the harsh form of my refusal. At the same time I would like to introduce clarity in my announcement...Believe me that I have no claims to the head coach Vyacheslav Bykov. Slava and I are both products of HC CSKA, we played in one club and national team and we are in perfect relations...I know that he has done a lot to restore atmosphere in the national team and Russia’s two victories at the World Championships. I also know in which situation he is ahead of the Olympic games...My refusal was provoked by a call of administrator, who warned me that coaches take me to Vancouver as reserve player. I won’t hide that this conversation shocked me and the explanation is not in the fact that I would be in reserve. The main thing is the form how they informed me about it. To my mind people showed they are not professionals by behaving this way, and I was not ready for it after seventeen seasons of playing in NHL..I think that not all people deal with their own business in the Russian hockey and Bykov is just a hostage of this system. The team of managers should be responsible for formation of the national team’s squad and holding talks with players, while in Russia the head coach has to deal with this job...Vladislav Tretyak is famous former goalkeeper, the world hockey legend, he is manager of our national team, however managers’ work is something absolutely different from what we used to see in Russia. In NHL junior administrator or masseur would never call you and inform you that coaches take you to the team’s roster or not. It’s all manager’s responsibility”.


To view Sergey's statement in whole, please visit this link.

Fellow Russian Sniper Wishes Kovalchuk Best In New Jersey

"I wish him good luck. He's a good friend of mine and a great player. It was a big trade and I'm sure good players are going to Atlanta, too." -- Alex Ovechkin

Kovy Leaves as "Good Teammate"

Elliot Friedman of CBC Sports writes in his Friday blog that despite being traded to New Jersey, Ilya Kovalchuk's teammates in Atlanta have nothing but kind words for their former captain. One teammate went on record to say, "[Kovalchuk] is a good guy. Hangs out with the rest of the team, fits in." Despite some of the negative public relations winds that were created between Ilya Kovalchuk and the Thrashers organization over the past few months, Friedman believes that New Jersey provides an incredible opportunity for Kovalchuk to revive his image. In addition, if Kovalchuk accepts a role with the Devils, it would not be out of the question to see Kovalchuk's open market value rise.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Anssi Salmela Brings New Dimension To Devils

Defensemen Anssi Salmela was part of tonight's mega trade between the Atlanta Thrashers and New Jersey Devils, and while the talk may reside on prized winger Ilya Kovalchuk, Salmela's strong offensive play will bring a new dimension to the New Jersey Devils. Salmela, 25, had a goal and four assists in 29 games this season for Atlanta. The Finn was acquired by the Thrashers from the Devils in exchange for defenseman Niclas Havelid and forward Myles Stoesz on March 2, 2009.

Kovalchuk Trade Analysis: Devils turn back the clock

Phil Coffey of NHL.com applauds New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello for making a mega trade for superstar Ilya Kovalchuk. Coffey believes that tonight's trade was errily similar to a move Lamoriello made in 2000 when he traded for another Russian sniper Alexander Mogilny. Ten years latter the Devils hope Kovalchuk could produce similar results, as Mogilny was an important part of the Devils team that won the 2000 Stanley Cup and came within one game of back-to-back Cups in 2001. To learn more about the Devils recent trade for Ilya Kovalchuk and how it may affect their playoff hopes, please visit this link.

Kovalchuk made impact on and off the ice in Atlanta

Since his first season with the Atlanta Thrashers eight years ago, Ilya Kovalchuk has made a huge impression on the city of Atlanta and the National Hockey League. He is the franchise's all-time leader in games (594), points (615), goals (328), assists (287), game-winning goals (40), power-play goals (115), power-play points (243) and shots (2,178). Since entering the NHL, he has scored more goals and power-play goals than any NHL player over that period. He also is on a pace for a sixth straight 40-goal season – the only player to do so over that span (John Manasso, NHL.com). With the move to New Jersey, the Russian sniper could further raise his profile in the game of hockey. Joe Manasso of NHL.com explores the most memorable moments in Kovalchuk's career.

We Are All Professionals: Ilya Kovalchuk Speaks About Status With Thrashers

To listen to Ilya Kovalchuk's entire media interview, please visit this link.

Russia's A-Train On Track


As the 2010 Vancouver Olympics near, the Russian national ice hockey team are early favorites to bring gold back to the motherland. A Russian triumph in Vancouver may depend on the solid play by the defensive unit led by Ottawa Senator Anton Volchenkov. Volchenkov, who is having another strong year with the Senators, has been subtle about the Russians chances stating, "With [Sergei] Gonchar and [Andrei] Markov, we've got a couple of real good players and I have some experience but we won't be trying to get goals." With the possibility of becoming an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, Anton Volchenkov may have more to play for than Olympic Gold.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

GM Waddell Tells Kovalchuk To Expect Trade Soon

GM WADDELL TELLS KOVALCHUK TO EXPECT A TRADE SOON

TSN.CA Staff

"...Thrashers general manager Don Waddell met with the star forward on Wednesday and told him to expect a trade to another NHL team over the next few hours or days.

There is no indication that any deal with a specific team is imminent, but the Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins and New York Rangers are included on a list of five or more teams who continue to express interest.

Kovalchuk, 26, became the subject of trade rumours recently after reports surfaced that he could not come to terms on a multi-year contract with the only NHL team he's ever played for. The Russian sniper is in the final year of his current deal and is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

A seven-year NHL veteran, Kovalchuk was selected first overall by the Thrashers in the 2001 NHL Draft. In 594 career NHL games with Atlanta, he has amassed 328 goals and 615 points.

Kovalchuk scored a career-high 52 goals with the Thrashers in 2007-08 and was co-recipient of the Rocket Richard Trophy in 2003-04 with a league-leading 41 goals."

Shirokov Shines In January: Nominated For Reebok-AHL Rookie of The Month


Sergei Shirokov capped off a fabulous month by being nominated as a Reebok/AHL Rookie of the Month. The winger from Russia has been playing great all year, as 16 goals and 34 points for the season and was selected to this year's AHL All Star Game. To find out more about Sergei's nomination and other fellow nominees for the month of January, please visit this link.

Pekka Rinne Continues Strong Play

John Glennon of The Tennessean breaks down his thoughts on Tuesday's Nashville Predators - Pheonix Coyotes game in his Postgame Ponderings Column and comments on the play of Pekka Rinne.

"Tough break for goa­lie Pekka Rinne, who had a second straight strong outing. Des­pite suf­fe­ring the shoo­tout loss, Rinne was cre­di­ted with his third shu­tout of the sea­son and also stop­ped eight-of-10 Phoe­nix shoo­tout attempts. If Rinne gets the start on Thurs­day, it will mark the first time either Pred goa­lie has had three con­se­cu­tive starts since Rinne did Dec. 8-12."

Win Streak Ends For Canucks, but Samuelsson Remains Hot

Last night it seemed as though the Vancouver Cancucks could not break Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak effectively as the fourth year Canadien saved 45 shots and broke the Canucks seven game win streak in a 3-2 victory. Despite the loss, the Cancucks experienced the continued strong play by winger Mikael Samuelsson who scored on a power play in the first period. In his last five games, Samuelsson has had 3 goals and 4 points. Even more impressive, since December 27th, Samuelsson has talied 9 goals 14 points

Classic Video: Video of Alex Radulov Scoring The Winning Goal At the 2009 IHWC


Thanks to ago KimmoKuopio at Break.com for posting this classic video of Alex Radulov scoring the game winning goal at the 2009 Ice Hockey World Championship final (5/10/2009) between Russia and Canada. To see the Alex win the game in dramatic fashion, please visit this link.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pekka Rinne on Thom Abraham Show: Opens Up About His Olympic Plans and The "Save, Pekka Rinne!" Song

Nashville Predators goalie opens up on the Thom Abrahams Show about his Olympic plans, whether the NHL should continue to participate in the Olympics, and the world wide sensation the "Save, Pekka Rinne!" song. To hear the interview in full please visit this link.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Kovalchuk Obstacles (Larry Brooks New York Post)

Larry Brooks of the New York Posts write in his Sunday column that Atlanta Thrashers GM Don Waddell will not allow teams interested in trading for prized winger Ilya Kovalchuk to negotiate a contract extension before a trade is complete. Brooks goes onto write that Don Waddell does not want Ilya Kovalchuk's agent Jay Grossman to control the process, but such thinking may not be wise considering Atlanta's track record in similar situations. To read Larry Brook's column in full, please visit this link.

Video: Anton Volchenkov Collides With Michael Cammalleri


Thanks to our friends at BallHype for originally posting this video! Ottawa Senator defenseman Anton Volchenkov lays a killer hit on Montreal Canadiens Michael Cammalleri during the CBC's Saturday Hockey Night in Canada program. Hopefully both individuals are able to walk away without injury.