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Ilya Kovalchuk Ready to Go to Russia If Agreement on CBA Not Reached?

TURIN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 22:  Shane Doan #9 of Canada tries to reach around Ilya Kovalchuk #71 of Russia during the quarter final of the men's ice hockey match between Russia and Canada during Day 12 of the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games on February 22, 2006 at the Torino Esposizioni in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images
Robert TheodorsonSenior Analyst IAugust 30, 2012

During negotiations over a new CBA, which would prevent the NHL from going into a third lockout in the past two decades, the fighting between the wealthy and the ultra-rich has not hit the brakes.

When one-percenters argue about who is greedier, no one but the little guy loses, and frankly the NHL cannot take another lockout so soon after the last one. In short, we can't afford to lose any more fans after a relatively good resurgence in the sport the past few seasons.

Thankfully, the NHL isn't the only place we can watch our hockey, and while the American Hockey League may not be televised at all, true hockey fans are going to find a way to catch a good amount of overseas action where the NHL's best and brightest are planning to play should there be no 2012-13 season.

After getting so very close to a fourth Stanley Cup, Devils fans are hungrier for hockey than most, and with the loss of Zach Parise, all eyes are going to be following star forward Ilya Kovalchuk, the Devils' most exciting player and one of the best in the entire world.

So in the event of a lockout, where will Kovy be headed?

During the previous lockout, the Russian returned home and played the majority of the season for Ak Bars Kazan. Kazan is the capital city of the Tatarstan region. A beautiful city with a rich history, Kazan has a very heavy Central Asian influence, and if we're taking bets, Kovalchuk will most likely want to return to a team that he's comfortable with.

Unlike the NBA, I just don't see superstars joining in groups based on nationality. The thought of Ovechkin, Datsyuk, Malkin and Kovalchuk on the same team will come to fruition, but certainly not this year.

For that show, you will have to wait for the 2014 Winter Olympics where the superstars will play hosts in Russia.

Although NHL fans might not know much about Ak Bars, they will remember former Pittsburgh Penguin Aleksey Morozov, who now captains the team. 

Kovalchuk also played for Atlant Moscow Oblast, scoring 13 points in 11 games.

Closer to a championship than Kazan, Moscow Oblast made the KHL Finals in the 2010-11 season, but lost the series 4-1.

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