There was never any chance that Ilya Kovalchuk would negotiate with another NHL team after his initial 17-year, $102 million contract with the Devils was rejected by the league and an arbitrator declared him an unrestricted free agent again.
But there was the thought of playing in Russia’s Kontinetal Hockey League.
“I told Lou (Lamoriello) right away the only team I want to play for in the NHL was New Jersey,” said Kovalchuk, who arrived in New Jersey Thursday night and took his physical today along with the team’s veterans.
“They’re the only team we were talking to after that. I told my agent it’s not going to be fair to anybody the way Mr. Vanderbeek and Lou treated me. It wouldn’t be fair if I talked to someone else and we found a way.”