Elias: Kovalchuk missing start of Devils camp would be a big deal


The potential for drama in the Ilya Kovalchuk situation continues to climb.

While every other New Jersey Devils player gave the Bergen Record’s Tom Gulitti a diplomatic answer regarding Kovalchuk possibly missing the beginning of training camp for the KHL All-Star Game, Patrik Elias said it’s a big deal.

“It is,” Elias said. “We’re all supposed to report on Sunday, right?”

Before you imagine Roman Hamrlik in the Washington Capitals locker room-type awkwardness, Elias does provide a caveat.

“If they gave him permission, that’s fine,” Elias said.

That’s where it gets a little funky.

Devils GM Lou Lamoriello hasn’t addressed the Kovalchuk issue specifically, but Gulitti indicates that the team expects Kovalchuk to be at camp on Sunday.

As for Kovalchuk returning to New Jersey, Lamoriello said his feelings were, “No different on any of the statements I’ve made,” which is that he has “no reason” to believe Kovalchuk won’t be in New Jersey for the start of camp.

Should the Devils actually expect him to show up?

Backup goalie Johan Hedberg has been texting with Kovalchuk and provided a rather interesting perspective on why the sniper might stay in the KHL.

“I see plenty of reasons, really. I think this goes back to more a moral thing too. I don’t know if I want to go there,” Hedberg said.

(Hedberg declined to elaborate on what he meant by “moral thing,” while Gulitti guesses it’s a reference to the lockout.)

” But I hope and I think he’s going to be with us,” Hedberg said.

Considering all the talk about how much Kovalchuk wants to finish the season overseas, one wouldn’t guarantee his return, though.

Tough start: Lehner knocked out of Sabres debut, won’t return

Matt Puempel, Alex Chiasson, Robin Lehner
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Chances are Robin Lehner won’t look back fondly on his first game as a Sabre.

Midway through Buffalo’s season-opener against Ottawa, Lehner — facing his old team for the first time since getting traded this summer — suffered a lower-body injury, and was forced from the contest.

During the second intermission, the Sabres ruled out Lehner for the night.

It was a difficult turn of events for 24-year-old, who admitted he was keen to go up against the Sens. He had a bit of a chip on his shoulder about his time in the Canadian capital; Lehner felt he never got a full opportunity to run with the No. 1 gig, and probably wasn’t thrilled GM Bryan Murray opted to keep Craig Anderson and Andrew Hammond instead of him.

As for tonight’s injury, details are scarce. All that’s known is the ailment was serious enough for Lehner to leave and not return, forcing backup Chad Johnson into duty.

Prior to getting hurt, Lehner had stopped 11 of 12 shots faced.


‘Canes lose Wisniewski (lower body) 47 seconds into debut

Phil Kessel, James Wisniewski
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James Wisniewski‘s time as a Carolina Hurricane is off to a troubling start.

Wisniewski, acquired by the ‘Canes at this year’s draft, exited Thursday’s season-opener against Nashville early in the first period with a lower-body injury.

Shortly thereafter, the team ruled out his return.

Wisniewski, 31, was expected to play a fairly significant role on Carolina’s defense this year.

It’s unclear what the injury is or how severe it might be, but initial reports don’t sound good; Wisniewski appeared to be in significant pain and had to be helped off the ice.