Hopes were high when the New Jersey Devils traded for Ilya Kovalchuk last February. Kovalchuk, one of the top three goal scorers in the NHL, was supposed to put the Devils over the top and help deliver a Cup to New Jersey.
When the Devils were again ousted from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the first round last spring, the focus became re-signing him to a long term deal to keep him in Newark.
We all know what happened next.
Now comes a report that Kovalchuk is considering playing in the Russian KHL this season because yet another contract that the Devils worked out with him has been rejected by the NHL.
Whatever the NHL and "Minister Betteman's" reasoning, letting one of the premier players in the league walk and go overseas is a huge mistake. Imagine if Alex Rodriguez was basically forced to go to Japan or Dwayne Wade to Europe to play.
Some conspiracy theorists say that the real motivation here is that the league wants Kovalchuk in a huge market like Los Angeles, where he briefly flirted with signing with the Kings before the Devils offered that monster 17 year deal.
If that's the case, it won't work. Kovalchuk has stated that it's going to be New Jersey or the KHL. Additionally, the Kings would have to do some cap maneuvering of their own to get a deal done.
More than likely, there's no conspiracy at all, it's simply a case of the National Hockey League shooting itself inthe foot again.