Ilya Kovalchuk speaks out about his contract ordeal with the NHL

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for kovalchukwithstrangestatue.jpgWe’ve heard from just about everyone close to or involved in the Ilya Kovalchuk situation. We’ve heard from Lou Lamoriello, we’ve heard from his teammates but we haven’t heard from Ilya Kovalchuk himself. Until now. The always on the spot when it comes to Russian NHLers Dmitry Chesnokov from Yahoo’s Puck Daddy gets the exclusive first interview with Kovalchuk after the summer-long contract dispute with the NHL.

In it, Kovalchuk speaks his mind about the NHLPA representation and about how Brian Burke did, indeed, testify against his contract and others like it during the contract grievance arbitration hearing.

Two questions and answers stand out in particular from this great interview.

How did you feel when your initial contract was rejected right after you held a press conference in Newark?

What feelings could I have had? I was told that a rejection was a possibility. So, I was actually ready for it. Back then we didn’t know for sure that the contract would be approved. And then there was an arbitration hearing. But of course when I was told that the contract had been rejected, it didn’t feel good. But at the same time, New Jersey made another offer that ultimately satisfied everyone.

Do you feel that maybe the Players Association didn’t mount a good enough defense for you?

Not at all. Why? They presented their case entirely; they said everything they had to say. But ultimately it was up to the arbitrator who made a decision. There’s nothing criminal in this.

All in all, Kovalchuk’s handling of everything is pretty calm, cool and collected. I can’t say that if I were in his shoes I’d be as reasonable and seemingly mild-mannered given everything that went down to gum up the process. I’ll stress that everyone go to Puck Daddy to read the rest of the interview. Being that there aren’t any other writers out there able to get the kind of direct access to speak with players from Russia the way Chesnokov does, he’s doing a lot to help make the lines of communication more open and much clearer for NHL fans.

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    ‘There’s still lots of room for growth’: Stars GM preaches patience with Nichushkin

    Valeri Nichushkin
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    Valeri Nichushkin has the tools — listed at six-foot-four-inches tall and 205 pounds with devastating speed. He has the skill.

    However, now at the end of his entry-level contract, the 10th overall draft pick for the Dallas Stars in 2013 has endured the highs and lows associated with a young player trying to make his mark in the National Hockey League after a promising rookie campaign.

    For starters, his sophomore 2014-15 season was essentially wiped out — he played only eight games for the Stars — by a hip injury that required surgery. He also didn’t get off to the greatest start this season, and coming back from surgery likely played a factor as to why, as he found his way into Lindy Ruff’s doghouse early on.

    As a result, was made a healthy scratch.

    His bottom line offensive numbers included nine goals and 29 points in 79 games played, and one assist in 10 playoff games for the Stars, as they were eliminated in the second round.

    Still, he’s just 21 years old. When playing with top players like Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, he was able to get on a bit of a roll offensively.

    Stars GM Jim Nill, speaking on SiriusXMNHL, referenced the difficulty for a young player coming back off surgery, but remains confident in Nichushkin.

    “We’re happy with Val,” he said (at around the 5:30 mark).

    “Came back this year, got off to a slow start because of that. We thought the last five games of the playoffs, he really started to look like himself. He started to dominate down low and in the corners.

    “He is only 21. I know there’s still lots of room for growth, so we’re going to be patient with him. We think he’s a big part of our future.”

     

    Coyotes hire new COO

    GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 09:  Fans line up outside of Gila River Arena before the NHL game between the Arizona Coyotes and the Winnipeg Jets on October 9, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Jets defeated the Coyotes 6-2.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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    GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) The Arizona Coyotes have hired Anaheim Ducks executive Ari Segal as chief operating officer.

    The move was announced by the team on Wednesday.

    Segal previously served as a special assistant to Anaheim CEO Michael Schulman and as president of business operations for the Ducks’ AHL affiliate in San Diego.

    Segal helped with preparations for the new AHL club and recently worked with the NHL in the league’s broadcast media strategy group, evaluating league and team broadcast rights and distribution deals.

    Segal previously worked as an associate in the sports practice at McKinsey & Company, a New York-based management consulting firm.

    Related: The Coyotes are going in a ‘new direction,’ and that’s an understatement

    Jackets re-sign Sedlak, AHL affiliate’s leading playoff scorer

    COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 20:  Lukas Sedlak #85 of the Columbus Blue Jackets waits for the pass during the game against the Winnipeg Jets on September 20, 2011 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus Ohio.  The Blue Jackets defeated the Jets 5-1.  (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
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    Columbus farmhand Lukas Sedlak, who currently sits tied atop AHL Lake Erie’s playoff scoring leaderboard, has signed a one-year, two-way deal, the Jackets announced on Wednesday.

    Sedlak, 23, was a fifth-round pick in 2011 that’s spent the last three years in the American League. This season was by far his most successful — in addition to potting a career-best 14 goals, he’s become close to a point-a-game producer in the playoffs, with 11 through 12 games.

    “Sedlak has been on a run for us with goal-scoring,” Lake Erie head coach Jared Bednar said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “He’s not a guy who does it for us every night. But he works so hard in all the other areas.”

    Sedlak has yet to make his NHL debut, but could be in the mix for a recall next season.

    Despite Canadian dollar, Bettman still expects ‘revenue increase’

    NHL commissioner Gary Bettman answers a question during a news conference before the NHL All-Star hockey game skills competition, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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    The Canadian dollar is trading at around $0.77 USD today. While that’s up considerably from where it was a few months ago, the damage has already been done to NHL revenues.

    “If the Canadian dollar was still at par, we would be $100 or 200 million higher perhaps than we may find ourselves,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told Bloomberg Television today.

    Having said that, Bettman still expects there will be a “revenue increase” compared to last year, adding that “we continue to grow year after year and set new records.”

    More from Bloomberg:

    Bettman said that while the NHL’s revenue growth has come across the entire business, the league has seen its biggest boon in its digital platform. The league last year signed a six-year, $1.2 billion contract with Major League Baseball’s interactive media and Internet arm, or BAM, to operate the its digital operations, streaming services and TV network. The NHL got a 10 percent stake as part the deal.

    The NHL playoffs are currently in the middle of the conference finals. The NHL’s fiscal year ends June 30.

    League revenues, of course, have a direct impact on the salary cap, and let’s face it, that’s the only thing most fans care about.

    As of March, the cap was expected to grow from $71.4 million in 2015-16 to $74 million next season.

    However, that projection assumed the NHLPA would accept the CBA’s standard five percent growth factor, and with escrow topping the list of player concerns, that’s no given.

    The players’ association will discuss and make a decision on the growth factor at some point before July 1.

    Related: Bowman noncommittal on Shaw and Bickell, needs to know salary cap first