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Columnist says lockout prompted Kovalchuk’s departure


Some, like Don Cherry, point to greed. Others believe that it’s all too easy to ignore family and the comforts of home when we consider a hockey player’s motives. There are also people who believe that the New Jersey Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk reached a mutually beneficial decision when he opted to bolt for the KHL.

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks blames a different factor to explain why the 30-year-old won’t suit up in Newark any longer: the lockout.

But it was this latest lockout that unlocked the door to St. Petersburg and the KHL for Kovalchuk, a man of independence who was ultimately granted his by Lou Lamoriello as the least of all evils.

There may be owners on the NHL Board of Governors, but 15-year contract notwithstanding, Kovalchuk simply would not cede ownership of his life to these men who had prohibited him from playing under that very contract for more than the first scheduled three months of last season.

Kovalchuk’s mom ranks among those who’ve said that this wouldn’t have happened if he wasn’t spending a portion of the 2012-13 hockey season in the KHL.

Ultimately, it’s probably too simple to point to one factor when it’s likely that plenty of facets influenced his decision. Even so, this Brooks line might be quite true:

Revenue increased on a per capita basis, TV ratings reached record levels and the NHL conducted business as usual once the Board of Governors unlocked the doors in January, but Owners’ Lockout III did indeed produce collateral damage, with Ilya Kovalchuk serving as Exhibit A.