Ilya Kovalchuk

There’s been a lot in the news of late about Ilya Kovalchuk deciding to stick it out in the KHL until he’s participated in the league’s all-star game, which was played Sunday.

I don’t care what the reason is that he explained to Lou Lamoriello, who said everything was peachy, there are going to be ramifications. When news first broke that Kovalchuk planned on playing in the game, and missing the first few days of camp, it was received negatively in the New Jersey media.

One of the most intriguing responses came from Patrik Elias, who simply answered, “No” when asked if Kovalchuk’s plans bothered him, adding that if team management was OK with it, so was he.

Maybe you’re convinced, but I’m not. The team using Kovalchuk’s spot in the locker room as a closet until his return today, in my opinion, speaks volumes. You could say I’m looking too much into this, but I’d simply tell you it’s my job.

The New Jersey media has been hanging Kovalchuk since the decision was announced. And they raise a good point. The Russian, who captained the West team in the KHL all-star game, said the Russian fans deserve to see the finest Russian players in the game. So, in other words, you fans in New Jersey don’t deserve his full attention, despite what that MASSIVE contract leads you to believe.

(And by the way, Ilya, doing your little figure skating routine at the all-star game didn’t help your dwindling reputation.)

Now I’m sure I’ll get criticism for not calling out Pavel Datsyuk, as well, who got permission from the Red Wings to also participate in the KHL all-star game. The thing is, Datsyuk is a two-time Stanley Cup champion, four-time NHL all-star, four-time Lady Byng winner, three-time Selke Trophy winner, and, I think most will agree, a much more respectable human than Ilya Kovalchuk. I think he’ll do just fine coming back to the NHL. Kovalchuk, as we all know, has been known to play inconsistently (to put it nicely) in the past. So there.

In case you were wondering, Kovalchuk recorded a hat trick in the game, but West fell to East, 18-11.

Kinda makes you glad there’s no NHL all-star game this year, huh?

Scott Gomez and Wade Redden

As most of you found out yesterday, the NHL and NHLPA agreed to institute an accelerated compliance buyout, which is a fancy way of saying, “We don’t want you here anymore, you don’t want to be here anymore, just leave.”

The poster boys of this movement are Scott Gomez and Wade Redden, who both signed unnecessarily long contracts with Montreal and the New York Rangers, respectively.

So, basically, what all this means is that both organizations can buy out the remaining amount of the contract (100 percent of what is left) to release the player from their organization and allow said player to search for new employment opportunities. If I were Scott Gomez (am I? You can’t prove I’m not), I’d start looking in the food service sector. Tim Horton’s is always hiring.

The catch, however, is that teams that buyout these players, for now, must still take the cap hit that player leaves behind for the upcoming season. But, should a team issue a buyout during the next window in the summer after the season, then regular rules apply.

Another note for the preseason buyout window, as if this wasn’t confusing enough already, is that player consent is mandatory for the buyout, as is a contract $3 million or higher.

If only players didn’t sign ridiculous contracts in the first place…

(Why does no one listen to me?)

Where in the NHL is Roberto Luongo?

Is he in Vancouver? Toronto? Edmonton? Chicago? I’ll stop before this turns into a Beach Boys song.

The bottom line is that no one really knows.

Reports like the one from TSN’s James Duthie (actually it was Enrico Ciccone, but most of his stuff on Twitter was in French. So forget that…), indicate the most interest is coming from Philadelphia. I think we can all agree that, despite claims in the past that the problems have been solved, the Flyers’ goalie woes do, indeed, continue.

Personally, I’d like to not see Luongo in the Atlantic, though the Penguins have had success on him in the past.

Stay tuned.

Gary Bettman

Just because.

Reduced stuff!

One of the amenities hockey fans will enjoy this shortened season will be reduced prices for NHL GameCenter and Center Ice, the NHL announced earlier this week.

GameCenter is down from $160 to $50 for the season. Center Ice dropped from $172 to $50 for cable, $60 for satellite. If I do my math right…each team plays 48 games, approximately 59 percent of a full season…each of those reduced prices are around 30 percent the cost a regular season package.

As one of my colleagues said on Twitter, “Here, NHL...Take my money.”

(By the way, I had to take a nap after that math.)

startYOURseason

Those of you that have played EA Sports NHL games in the past know that, since the advent of the Winter Classic, it has been common for to start the game playing the outdoor competition.

That wasn’t the case this year (I can’t imagine why). But EA Sports has released a trailer for the shortened season, accompanied by the hashtag (yes, that’s the # thing) “startYOURseason.”

What I didn’t see in the trailer was the shot of all the fans in the Big House, anxiously awaiting the Winter Classic, only to be disappointed when no players showed up. Maybe I missed it.

Donald Fehr

See above entry for Gary Bettman.

Isles claim Hickey

Anyone paroozing NHL.com Tuesday saw that headline along the sidebar. Perhaps it’s that sense of childishness inside that you always try to push down, but I found it hilarious.

It’s no one’s fault, really. Thomas Hickey is a very talented defenseman. He captained Canada’s gold-winning Junior team in 2009, the country’s most recent gold medal at the event (Sorry, Canada, had to say it), and was the fourth overall NHL draft pick by the Kings in 2007.

The problem is, he has yet to play in the NHL, spending the last four seasons in the AHL. Don’t worry, son, the Islanders will fix you right up!

As far as the name goes, don’t worry about it…I’m sure it the headlines were worse when Dallas signed undrafted Brown University center Ryan Garbutt.

JD sold on Blue Jackets

Did you know Columbus, Ohio, is a hockey town? I didn’t. And I’m sure neither did the majority of Columbusites.

But new Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson knows something we don’t.

In a Dan Rosen-penned article on NHL.com yesterday, Davidson shmoozed over the faithful fans in Columbus (which, granted, is his job now), using terms like “when” the Jackets get good, instead of “if” the Jackets get good.

Part of me wants to see Davidson proven correct, mostly because he’s a great guy for the sport. But the rest of me (I’d say around 60 percent) doesn’t want to see success in Columbus. Contrary to what Gary Bettman may have told you in the last expansion, Columbus isn’t a hockey city. It’s not even a pro sports market. It revolves around Ohio State, and nothing else.

I’ve been hoping that Columbus would move to Quebec City ever since Atlanta moved to Winnipeg. And (ear-muff it, JD), I’m still hoping for it.

Well that does it for this week’s installment of the Humpday Hater Report. I hope everyone enjoys the season’s commencement this weekend. I know I will.

Until next time, happy hating!