Columnist says lockout prompted Kovalchuk’s departure


Some, like Don Cherry, point to greed. Others believe that it’s all too easy to ignore family and the comforts of home when we consider a hockey player’s motives. There are also people who believe that the New Jersey Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk reached a mutually beneficial decision when he opted to bolt for the KHL.

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks blames a different factor to explain why the 30-year-old won’t suit up in Newark any longer: the lockout.

But it was this latest lockout that unlocked the door to St. Petersburg and the KHL for Kovalchuk, a man of independence who was ultimately granted his by Lou Lamoriello as the least of all evils.

There may be owners on the NHL Board of Governors, but 15-year contract notwithstanding, Kovalchuk simply would not cede ownership of his life to these men who had prohibited him from playing under that very contract for more than the first scheduled three months of last season.

Kovalchuk’s mom ranks among those who’ve said that this wouldn’t have happened if he wasn’t spending a portion of the 2012-13 hockey season in the KHL.

Ultimately, it’s probably too simple to point to one factor when it’s likely that plenty of facets influenced his decision. Even so, this Brooks line might be quite true:

Revenue increased on a per capita basis, TV ratings reached record levels and the NHL conducted business as usual once the Board of Governors unlocked the doors in January, but Owners’ Lockout III did indeed produce collateral damage, with Ilya Kovalchuk serving as Exhibit A.

Goalie nods: Greiss gets start over injured Halak

Thomas Greiss
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Thomas Greiss will be between the pipes for the New York Islanders when they host the Blackhawks tonight in Brooklyn.

Greiss was signed this offseason to back up Jaroslav Halak, who skated this morning but remains day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

“Jaro’s not 100 percent right now, so it was an easy decision,” coach Jack Capuano told Newsday. “Jaro’s progressing well and we’ll see how he is moving forward.”

Greiss will be backed up by J-F Berube, who was claimed off waivers from Los Angeles earlier in the week.

Corey Crawford will be in goal for Chicago.

These two teams meet again tomorrow at United Center.


Michael Hutchinson goes for the Jets in New Jersey after Ondrej Pavelec got the win last night in Boston. Cory Schneider for the Devils.

Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers. Sergei Bobrovsky for the Blue Jackets in their opener.

Jonathan Bernier for the Leafs. Jimmy Howard for the Red Wings in their opener.

Mike Smith for the Coyotes. Jonathan Quick likely for the Kings, who will need a better effort than the one they had Wednesday against San Jose.

Related: Mike Smith seeing benefit from sports psychologist

No hearing scheduled for Burmistrov after Bergeron headshot

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Winnipeg forward Alex Burmistrov isn’t in line for a disciplinary hearing for his elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron on Thursday night, an NHL spokesman confirmed to PHT.

Burmistrov was tagged with an illegal check to the head minor late in the first period. Bergeron received a minor roughing penalty for retaliating on the Russian forward, but was able to finish the contest.

Afterward, B’s head coach Claude Julien expressed frustration with the hit.

“It will be interesting how that is being reviewed, and especially to an elite player in the league who’€™s had some [concussion] issues in the past,” Julien said, per WEEI. “I hope they look at it seriously. In my mind, I don’€™t see why there wouldn’t be further consequences [for] that.”

Bergeron said that, while it was “definitely a hit to the head,” Burmistrov did come up to him afterward and apologized.

According to sources of CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty, Burmistrov received a warning from the Department of Player Safety.