Cherry says Kovalchuk is ‘just laughing all the way to the bank’

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One guy we were all curious to hear from concerning Ilya Kovalchuk’s “retirement” from the NHL was Don Cherry.

Grapes’ thoughts in the past on players not from North America have always been lively, to say the least, and his take on Kovalchuk is no different as he told Bryan Angus of NextSportsStar.com. (h/t Puck Daddy)

“The Russians and the foreign people can have their cake and eat it, too,” he said. “They don’t like it here? ‘Hey, I’ll just…go back to the KHL and grab $77 million!’ And hey, why shouldn’t he? Hey, it’s tax free! So right off the top he’s saving 50 percent.

“So that’s why a lot of people are afraid to draft Russians. They do what they want to do and we cater to them. I’m the only guy that says the truth. You know, they have their cake and eat it, too, and Kovalchuk is just laughing all the way to the bank.”

For what you expect to hear from Cherry, this isn’t quite as over the top as it could’ve been. There’s more of the “Russian effect” talk and an “‘atta boy” for Kovalchuk getting paid.

There was one zinger though:

“You’re getting [millions] tax free over there … In a sense, if you don’t have any honor, it’s a pretty good deal.”

Well played, Grapes. Here’s the full video of his take on Kovalchuk.

Brodeur: ‘It’s going to be a challenge to make the playoffs’

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With Ilya Kovalchuk gone and headed to Russia, future Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur says making the playoffs could be a struggle.

Rich Chere of The Star-Ledger spoke with Brodeur to get his thoughts on what life after Kovalchuk will be like and it’s trepidatious at best.

“I think it’s going to be a wait and see. It’s going to be a challenge to make the playoffs,” Brodeur admitted. “Without Kovy, not having the 30 goals that Clarkie (David Clarkson) scored and the departure of Zach (Zach Parise), now it becomes tougher for us. Especially with Detroit coming in and Columbus just fell short last year.”

Roster upheaval of one kind or another is nothing new for New Jersey. Losing Parise, Clarkson, and Kovalchuk in back-to-back years proves that. As Brodeur noted in the story, people are always eager to count the Devils out when these things happen.

With realignment and the semi-late announcement by Kovalchuk, this could be their biggest test to date to overcome drama and make the postseason.

Related: With Kovalchuk gone, Devils pursue Damien Brunner

With Kovalchuk gone, Devils pursue Damien Brunner

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Now that Ilya Kovalchuk is an ex-Devils forward, they need to find a way to replace all the offense lost. They may have found a way to start doing just that.

Nicola Berger of Swiss newspaper Neue Luzerner Zeitung reports the Devils are hot after free agent Damien Brunner and are close to signing the Swiss winger.

Berger says the Devils are “doing a lot of background work on him” which must translate into “finding out if he’ll suddenly retire to play in Switzerland at a moments notice.”

Brunner made his NHL debut last season with the Detroit Red Wings and was an instant success story as he scored 12 goals and finished with 26 points. He also made his mark in shootouts proving to be an effective scorer there as well. While Detroit wanted to keep him around, his asking price was a bit too high for their salary cap needs.

Kovalchuk’s mom: Time in KHL during lockout strongly influenced decision

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When the lockout happened, Ilya Kovalchuk took the opportunity to play for SKA St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League. He returned to the New Jersey Devils when the work stoppage happened, but it looks like his time there was a key factor in his decision to walk away from the NHL.

Kovalchuk’s mother opened up to the media about what transpired and one of the first questions she was asked was if he enjoyed his time with SKA.

“Of course,” Kovalchuk’s mother told SovSport’s in an interview translated by Puck Daddy’s Dmitry Chesnokov. “Otherwise this question about leaving the NHL wouldn’t even be raised. And so it happened.”

Kovalchuk first began to talk about this matter with his family back in January, but he finished the season with the Devils so everything could be handled in a “civilized manner.”

Some will still be surprised that Kovalchuk would leave the NHL with $77 million over 12 years left on his contract, but his mother argued that number is misleading.

“After the lockout, there are a lot of restrictions at all teams,” she said. “They are also underpaid 20% [of their salary]. The League takes it as an escrow that may not be paid back if the NHL does not make profit. And then there’s government tax of 50%. That means on paper you are being paid $10 million a year, but in reality only 3. So the pendulum swung for Russia.”

How much Kovalchuk will make in the KHL is unclear, but there are reports indicating that he could end up making more annually at a taxation rate of 13%.

But for now, all that’s official is that he has retired from the NHL:

Related:

Devils players didn’t see Kovalchuk retirement coming

So, what’s next for the Devils without Kovalchuk?

What they’re saying about Kovalchuk bolting for the KHL

Devils players didn’t see Kovalchuk retirement coming

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If you were blindsided by Ilya Kovalchuk’s decision to announce his retirement for the purposes of heading to the KHL, you aren’t alone.

We previously reported that Zach Parise was “shocked” when he found out about the news and apparently that was the word of the day for the Devils.

“It’s definitely a little bit of a shocker,” Travis Zajac told the Bergen Record. “I didn’t really see that coming.”

Zajac was so surprised when he first heard the news that he reached out to Record writer Tom Gulitti to see if the reports were true. Martin Brodeur also used the word “shocker” to describe his reaction.

“I was like, ‘What? I’m the one who should be having that news. Not him,’” Brodeur, 41, added.

Devils captain Bryce Salvador also used the word of the day, but added that “you’ve got to respect” his desire to play at home.

Brodeur took things a bit further and suggested that the lockout might have played an important role in Kovalchuk’s decision.

“When you go through what he went through with his contract and the controversy and everything and to finally settle on a number and you turn around and that number is change dramatically because of the new CBA, that might have ticked him off a lot,” Brodeur said. “And for him, if there wasn’t a lockout, he would have never tasted the KHL.”

Brodeur added that as a player, he can understand Kovalchuk’s decision, but as a man that’s invested decades into the New Jersey Devils, he’s disappointed.

“He committed himself for a long time and when you turn around a few years after and you decide to just leave everything, it’s not like we’re getting anything for him,” Brodeur said. “If anything, it’s costing us money on the cap ($250,000 per season for 12 years as the cap recapture penalty for retiring before the end of the contract).”

One other sentiment that multiple Devils shared: Replacing Kovalchuk isn’t simple. But they’re going to try and win anyways.