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Player Profile: Ilya Kovalchuk

Ilya KovalchukNUMBER: 17
HEIGHT: 6′ 3″
WEIGHT: 230
POSITION: Left Wing
SHOOTS: Right
BORN: April 18, 1983
BIRTHPLACE: Tver, Russia

Before Ilya Kovalchuk was the Atlanta Thrashers’ number one pick in 2001, he played two seasons in Russia for HC Spartak Moscow. When his NHL career began he was nominated for the Calder Memorial Trophy as league rookie-of-the-year. He has since then made three NHL All-Star appearances and won the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league’s leading goal scorer in 2004.

Kovalchuk was traded to the New Jersey Devils in February of 2010 after eight seasons with the Thrashers. After multiple contract offers and some controversial deals, Kovalchuk signed a 15 year, $100 million contract with the Devils.

After a slow first half of the season, Kovalchuk started to get back on his game and lit up. He had multiple streaks throughout the season and plenty of game winning goals (9 to be exact, 50 in his entire career). It was against the Leafs that he scored a game winning goal to give coach Jacques Lemaire his 600th win. In April of 2011, Kovalchuk played his 700th career game (again, against the Maple Leafs!) and got his 700th point on the same night.

He finished his first full season with the Devils with 31 goals and 29 assists for 60 points.

Kovalchuk has played in several IIHF World Championships, the World Cup and the Winter Olympics collecting a few gold, silver and bronze medals since 2001. Playing for Team Russia in this year’s IIHF World Championship sent him home with another silver medal.

We love having him on our team and look forward to watching him keep playing in red. I like to call him Goalvalchuk, what’s your nickname of choice?

2010-2011 Season Stats
GP G A P +/- PIM PP SH GW S S%
81 31 29 60 -26 28 9 0 9 245 12.7
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Coaching Candidates: Ken Hitchcock

So the Devils won the lottery and are getting 4th pick in the draft this year. Great! But we can’t forget the fact that the team still doesn’t have a coach. There have been many names floating around, so let’s talk about them. This is the first of a series of posts, so check back often!

Ken HitchcockWith the euphoria of the Devils winning the draft lottery and picking 4th (would’ve been 2nd if we had lost our final game and assured us of getting Adam Larsson…that’s another rant for another day), one question still remains. Who is gonna coach the team? Sure there is a perception in this organization that you could throw a cardboard cut-out of Toe Blake, put him behind the bench, and the Devils will win 40 games. However, I think we all have our nightmares thinking back to last year. We also don’t have the luxury of having “The Great Teacher” Jacques Lemaire coming back.  So we search, looking for a new leader to help this team get back on track after a disappointing season. Over the next couple of days I will go over the names being circulated around by fans and the media. First up, Ken Hitchcock.

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