If there’s any sort of upside for the New Jersey Devils out of the Ilya Kovalchuk retirement disaster, it comes from veteran forward Patrik Elias.
The 37 year-old Devils veteran tells Rich Chere of The Star-Ledger if he hadn’t re-signed with New Jersey already, Kovalchuk’s decision wouldn’t have made a difference on him.
“I don’t think it would have had an impact,” Elias said. “For me the decision (to stay with the Devils) was bigger than one guy.”
For Elias, his decision may have come from his own legacy with the team.
Previously in his career as a free agent he had a huge offer from the New York Rangers but the Devils ponied up to keep him there. When you spend 17 seasons and 18 years with a team, sometimes that means more to you when you get older.
Ilya Kovalchuk’s “retirement” from the NHL to head to Russia had some in the industry thinking it could lead to other Russian players ditching the North America for the KHL.
As Stephen Whyno of The Canadian Press shares, many insiders aren’t buying that. Agent Mark Gandler, whose client list includes Alexander Semin and Alex Burmistrov, says guys won’t start leaving in droves.
“I don’t think it’s an epidemic or anything like that,” he said. “I think each person makes his decision based on the circumstances that he’s in, based on his environment, his family, his upbringing.”
Kovalchuk’s choice was to head home and have his family join him there. That hasn’t stopped speculation that he was upset with how much money he lost thanks to taxes and escrow payments. In Russia he can make just as much money as he would in the NHL except it’ll be tax-free there.
As Gandler told Whyno, “The only incentive they can give you, in theory, is money.” That along with a less-busy schedule and thus more family time could just mean that much to him.
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.