The long awaited NHL return of former superstar Ilya Kovalchuk never quite lived up to the hype, did it?
After leaving for his native Russia and turning his back on the New Jersey Devils during the prime of his NHL career back in 2013, Kovalchuk made his return to the NHL in 2018 signing with the Los Angeles Kings. After a messy breakup with the Kings, Kovalchuk has bounced around a bit playing for both the Montreal Canadiens and Washington Capitals last season. Now he's an unrestricted free agent again and he's looking for the right "fit" before putting pen to paper this time, which makes sense when you consider his decision to sign with the Kings two seasons ago.
“I’m training to keep myself in shape,” Kovalchuk said yesterday to Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic. “I talk to Pat all the time, he keeps me posted. But I’m not in a rush. We will try to find the right place, the right fit, that’s good for everybody.’’
Interestingly enough, that right fit might be one that he has familiarity with, as it appears the Canadiens have offered up a contract to Kovalchuk to re-join the team.
“Everyone loved him on our team, he brought energy,’’ Habs GM Marc Bergevin says in LeBrun's latest column for The Athletic. “He loves the game. For him it’s not work, it’s the love of the game. If you ask me one thing about him, I would tell you how much he loves the game.’’
For what it's worth, the feeling seems to be mutual.
“Yeah that was a great time for sure,’’ Kovalchuk said. “Montreal is a special place. The people love hockey there. It’s like religion there. It was a great time. Like I said when I left, I appreciated everything they did for me. It gave me a chance to play.’’
Bergevin has played coy with the media so far this offseason, but it's believed that the Habs GM has tabled an offer to Kovalchuk for him to consider. However, don't count out a return to the Capitals as well but one thing's clear... Kovy is in no rush.
“Yeah, it’s all about the right place and the right time. Like I said, I’m not in a rush,” said Kovalchuk. “We talk to Pat all the time. He said right now the market is slow because teams don’t know what to expect. Everyone is waiting to see the results on the season and everything. So I’m not in a rush, either.’’
For the full article from LeBrun, click below: