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

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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.