Add Ilya Kovalchuk's name to the list of Russian players who may stay overseas if the NHL's new collective bargaining agreement sees salaries reduced.
The star winger told a Russian news outlet on Tuesday that if the league cuts the players' pay in any new deal, he may stay in Russia where he's playing with SKA St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League.
"Basically, I don't rule out staying in Russia in the case of a reduction of our salaries in the NHL," Kovalchuk told Sportbox.ru. "I just don't understand why they needed to sign such contracts. Or they were just hoping to cut the percentage later? I believe that the contracts must be respected and this is a fundamental question. There's no way the head of the (NHL Players') Association and the hockey players will agree on the wage reduction."
Kovalchuk, 29, signed a 15-year deal with the New Jersey Devils in 2010 worth $100 million.
He's not the only Russian player to voice such concerns since the start of the lockout, as fellow countrymen Alexander Ovechkin and Sergei Gonchar have also threatened to stay home if they don't find the new CBA to be favourable.
Kovalchuk scored 37 goals and 83 points last season and had 19 points in 23 games to help the Devils reach the Stanley Cup Final. He played for Spartak Moscow before he was chosen by the Atlanta Thrashers with the first pick of the 2001 NHL Draft.