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Ilya Kovalchuk Signs On for a Cultural Exchange for Himself and His Family

Ilya Kovalchuk signed a one-year contract with the Montreal Canadiens today. Other than moving as a hockey player, he’ll likely take his young family with him. What might that be like?

Today the Montreal Canadiens signed Ilya Kovalchuk to a two-way contract. That means he’ll move from Los Angeles across North America to another country with his family to settle for a while.

Here’s my take. First, Kovalchuk must have really wanted to play hockey this season. I’m not certain how I would feel if I were he, but it might be a bit embarrassing for a player of Kovalchuk’s history and status to sign a two-way contract. That said, it might also be a paid holiday.

Kovalchuk isn’t hurting for money. He had signed a three-year contract in July 2018 with the Los Angeles Kings and was just bought out. So, he’s got money in his pocket – so to speak. But to move his family around must be the entire family’s decision and, from a photo (attached to the link I provided) I saw, his children must be about 5, 8, 11, and 14 years old – so that has to be tough.

Related: Montreal Canadiens News & Rumors: Mete, Petry, Price, Armia, Suzuki, Gallagher & Lehkonen

Leaving the Los Angeles Kings and Signing with the Montreal Canadiens

Anyway, it was reported that the Canadiens had signed Kovalchuk to a one-season, two-way contract today. Should the 36-year-old Russian former NHL star play with the Canadiens, he’ll make NHL league-minimum of $700,000 USD. But, if he plays with the Canadiens’ AHL affiliate Laval Rocket, he’ll only pocket $70,000 USD.

On December 17, Kovalchuk became a free agent by clearing unconditional waivers. He might have been picked up if his contract had been more team-friendly, but it wasn’t. Clearing waivers allowed the Los Angeles Kings to terminate the remainder of his three-year, USD $18.75-million contract, which included the 2020-21 season.

Does Kovalchuk Still Have Skill?

It isn’t like the 6-foot-3, 222-pound Russian doesn’t still have scoring skill. He had three goals, six assists, and nine points in 17 games with the Kings this season. However, that simply wasn’t enough and the “former” NHL star, who was amazing in his day. He scored over 40 goals five times with the old Atlanta Thrashers.

The Thrashers had taken Kovalchuk with its No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. In 897 career games with the Thrashers, New Jersey Devils, and Kings, Kovalchuk had scored 436 goals and 423 assists for 859 points.

Related: Montreal Canadiens’ Players Nicknames: Petey, KK, Gally, MegaMind & Tuna

How Will Kovalchuk Do with the Habs?

How he’ll do with the Canadiens remains to be seen. However, if he can produce, that would certainly be value-added to a team just bumping into the edge of making the playoffs.

Personally, one thing I appreciate about the NHL structure is that there’s a place for veteran players who have skill remaining and want to hang on a bit longer. I mean, it seems as if he’s been around forever; but, in truth, he’s only 36 years old.

A Nice Family Experience

The other thought I have is that his family must be exceedingly cosmopolitan. For fans that know Kovalchuk’s history, he returned to St. Petersburg, Russia, to play for six seasons between 2012 and 2018. St. Petersburg is a beautiful and elegant European city and would be one of the great cities of the world. When Peter the Great built the city in the early 1700s, he employed a number of famous European architects to help with the design. It’s gorgeous.

However, in its own way, Montreal is a fantastic visit and would offer a unique place for a well-traveled family to live. In the midst of French Canada, it would be an experience.

I hope all goes well for Kovalchuk and his family. It will be interesting how the team will employ his talents. I also hope his family loves Montreal.

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