Ilya Kovalchuk

Kovalchuk insists he’s not behind KHL coach’s firing


Ilya Kovalchuk told R Sport that he isn’t responsible for Sunday’s firing of his KHL team SKA St. Petersburg’s head coach Milos Riha.

“All the rumors about some problems between me and Riha are nonsense,” Kovalchuk said. “We had a good personal relationship, and I want to wish good luck to him and [assistant coach Andrey] Potaychuk in wherever they will work next.”

It’s tough not to wonder what prompted the team to fire Riha, then.

The squad is currently on top of the KHL’s Western Conference with 61 points, tied for most in the league, so it’s hard to imagine the issue being about team performance.

Kovalchuk is also enjoying great personal success – he’s tied for fourth place in scoring with 29 points in 22 games – so the answer probably cannot be found in the standings or box scores.

If there indeed was a rift, Kovalchuk is certainly playing things closer to the vest than he did with short-lived New Jersey Devils bench boss John MacLean in 2010-11.

Report: Islanders cut first-rounder Barzal from camp

Mathew Barzal
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It seems Mathew Barzal has played in his last game in a New York Islanders’ uniform for a little while.

Barzal took part in the Islanders’ preseason finale against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but after that contest the Islanders decided to return him to WHL Seattle, per Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

He was taken with the 16th overall pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That selection was well-traveled as it originally belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was involved in the David Perron trade and then moved to the Islanders as part of Edmonton’s deal to get Griffin Reinhart.

Barzal is noteworthy for his skill and speed, but he may have slipped in the draft due to a knee injury he sustained during the 2014-15 campaign.

The Islanders also reassigned Kirill Petrov, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, and Adam Pelech to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension

Torres hit

What will Raffi Torres get this time?

The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.

It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.

Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.

You can see the hit below:

And here it is slowed down:

Torres got a match penalty and Silfverberg left the game. Fortunately, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have returned, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.