The Kontinental Hockey League All-Star Game is Sunday in Russia, the same day NHL training camps are expected to open in North America and while several NHLers are in transit from Europe, it appears that Ilya Kovalchuk may not return to New Jersey until after the game at the earliest.
On Wednesday, the KHL website published the revised all-star lineup for the upcoming game and Kovalchuk was the only NHL player remaining on the list. However, Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk has been given permission to participate in the All-Star festivities before returning to Detroit.
There were questions surrounding Kovalchuk's return to the NHL earlier this week, just two days after the NHL lockout ended. While players returned to North America, Kovalchuk was non-committal about a return, claiming he wanted to see what the new CBA looked like before heading back.
"I will need to read the new agreement," Kovalchuk told Russian daily sports newspaper, Sport Express, on Tuesday.
On Thursday, Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello told TSN that he was confident Kovalchuk would show up and play with his team.
"I stand behind my comment that's been consistent from Day 1 that I have no reason to believe that he won't be here and play for the Devils,'' Lamoriello told TSN.
The 29-year-old, who signed a 15-year, $100 million contract with New Jersey in 2010, has spent the season playing for SKA St. Petersburg. He was on the ice Tuesday for SKA's 3-2 loss to Ak Bars Kazan, while teammates Sergei Bobrovsky and Vladimir Tarasenko set off for their respective NHL teams, Columbus and St Louis.
NHL owners will vote to ratify the new 10-year agreement Wednesday, while the players will vote on Friday and Saturday.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Datsyuk has been given permission to participate in the All-Star festivities put will return to Detroit on Monday.
"Pavel loves Red Wings organization. He make his name in Detroit," Datsyuk's agent Gary Greenstin told the Free Press. "He belongs to them, and Detroit belong to him.
"He has permission to play in All-Star Game. He had reservation to fly the 11th; now I believe he will fly the 14th."