Ilya Kovalchuk

Kovalchuk insists he never planned on staying in KHL


Ilya Kovalchuk participated in his first day of New Jersey Devils training camp on Wednesday, but perhaps most importantly, he made it clear he was happy to be there.

The high-end sniper took time to dismiss various KHL-related rumors with Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger.

“I have a contract here and in the KHL they have a rule that as soon as the lockout ends we have to go back,” Kovalchuk said. “Nobody has a choice. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind I was going to come back.”

Perhaps the “nobody has a choice” line indicates that part of him wishes he could finish 2012-13 overseas, but he stomped out what was left of the scuttlebutt – including laughing off some odd stuff about Russian president Vladimir Putin trying to convince him to stay.

“No, that’s not true. I’m sure he’s got some other stuff to take care of,” Kovalchuk said. “I had a great time there, we had a good team but I have a contract here. I’m happy I’m back. I’m happy we’re all back because I think it’s going to be an exciting season.”

More good news: head coach Peter DeBoer liked what he saw from the jet-lagged star today.

“For a guy who got off a plane after I don’t know how long a travel day it was for him, I thought he looked pretty good. It’s nice to have him back,” DeBoer said.

They certainly need him, especially with Adam Henrique on the mend.

Update: Wisniewski tore ACL 47 seconds into ‘Canes debut

James Wisniewski, John-Michael Liles, Elias Lindholm
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Last night, we passed along news that veteran d-man James Wisniewski — acquired from Carolina at the draft — suffered what looked to be a serious injury just 47 seconds into his ‘Canes debut, and was ruled out for the remainder of the night.

Now, he’s been ruled out for a lot longer than that.

From the club:

Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that defenseman James Wisniewski will undergo surgery on his left knee after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during Thursday night’s game in Nashville.

Recovery time for the injury is estimated at six months.

This is, obviously, a tough development for both player and club. The ‘Canes were counting on Wisniewski to be a regular contributor on defense this year, and help improve last year’s middle-of-the-pack power play.

Wisniewski, meanwhile, was looking to bounce back from a disappointing ’14-15 campaign. He was shipped out of Columbus at the deadline to Anaheim but never made an impact for the Ducks, failing to see any playoff action as Anaheim made it all the way to the Western Conference final.

Jordan Weal to make NHL debut for Kings

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Two days after an uninspiring performance versus San Jose, the Los Angeles Kings will be getting an injection of youthful enthusiasm tonight versus Arizona.

Coach Darryl Sutter confirmed today that Jordan Weal will make his NHL debut at Staples Center.

A 23-year-old center, Weal is expected to replace Andy Andreoff and skate between Kyle Clifford and Jordan Nolan on the fourth line.

“It’s really exciting,” Weal told LA Kings Insider. “A lot of work has gone into getting to this part of my career, and the hard work’s just going to continue. It’s going to keep going, and I’m trying to do as much as I can in this game and keep improving from this game moving forward in trying to solidify a solid spot in the lineup.”

The 70th overall pick in 2010, Weal had 69 points in 73 games last season for AHL Manchester.

Related: Jordan Weal is looking to make the leap