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Vancouver Off-Topic / Current EventsThe off-topic forum for Vancouver, funnies, non-auto centered discussions, WORK SAFE. While the rules are more relaxed here, there are still rules. Please refer to sticky thread in this forum.
Is it possible that Lou Lamoriello and Bettman knew about Kovy's "retirement?"
When the lockout ended, Kovi was the last straggler back to N. America. Early in the lockout Kovi was quoted as saying:
"I don’t rule out staying in Russia in the case of a reduction of our salaries in the NHL." (Oct.23)
When the lockout ended:
"I will need to read the new agreement' before I decides what to do next." (Jan.08)
And now there is news that Kovalchuk had already agreed to terms with SKA St. Petersburg in January [This was before the news came out today that he signed]. Perhaps Lou Lamoriello convinced Kovalchuk to play the shortened season - and then he would help Kovalchuk walk away from the NHL free and clear. Lou likely saw that there was no way to keep Kovalchuk in the NHL - so he did the best he could in getting one more year out of him. Then he gets Kovalchuk to 'retire', rather than suspend him, so that both sides are free and clear of each other. And this also avoids any KHL-NHL tension, which leads to a theory that Lamoriello at the very least consulted with Gary Bettman on how best to handle this to the satisfaction of all involved.
As for Kovalchuk's future in the NHL - the NY Post and Puck Daddy dug up this little tidbit. Kovalchuk becomes an unrestricted NHL free agent in 2018, once he turns 35 years old.
While he walked away from $77 million in the NHL, he's reportedly making even more than that in the KHL (Confirmed today). And that won't change five years from now.
So is this the start of a trend of players leaving? What's to stop Ovechkin from doing it next year?
And could all 34-year-olds "retire" and then play one year in the KHL, and then return to the NHL as free agents? There's a loophole that could be trouble.
"A chicken crossing the street is poultry in motion"
When Gilbert Brule returned from Zurich after playing just 14 Swiss League games during the NHL lockout last season, it looked as though his hockey career was at an end.
It appeared to be an inauspicious conclusion to a career that began as a junior star with the Vancouver Giants, who have since enshrined him in the team’s Ring of Honour.
Brule was drafted sixth overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2005, but they dealt him to Edmonton after 2½ disappointing seasons. And the young man who was once tabbed to be a multimillion-dollar superstar in the NHL soon found himself out of the league after the Oilers also cut him loose following three mostly unproductive seasons.
But Brule says there were reasons he hadn’t built on his 2009-10 season, when he scored a career-high 17 goals and 37 points in just 65 games with Edmonton.
Brule was depressed about his fractured relationship with his father, Chris Brule — a man who, until recently, had been heavily involved in his son’s career, even long before he became a star with the Giants.
The medications Gilbert was on seemed to exacerbate the problem.
Brule says he entrusted his father with the care of the money he had worked so hard for, with the understanding that he was building a company for him.
Instead, he says his dad was doing something else with the money, something that ended poorly.
“Basically, he was taking money from me,” Brule said last week before one of his rigorous workouts aimed at getting his hockey career back on track, as the 26-year-old, free-agent centre is looking for a tryout with an NHL team this fall.
“At one point, my father and I were very close, as father and son should be. But now, basically, we don’t have a relationship. Now we just email on occasion.
“He (Chris Brule) was calling me seven or eight times a day, wanting to talk,” Brule said of his past troubles.
“At one point he was making suggestions there were some pictures on my computer that could be shown.
“I mean, the pictures he’s talking about are nothing I’m ashamed of. But that’s how pathetic it was getting. I actually think he didn’t feel he’d done anything wrong for a while. But he’s moved on now, and so have I.
“I’m not the type of person to come out and speak ill of my father, but I am at the point where I feel the hockey world needs to have a bit better insight into my life.”
The allegations about Chris Brule’s handling of money, and references to photos, are unproven and disputed by Chris Brule.
“There was never any misappropriation of funds, there were no threats of using pictures, that’s totally inappropriate,” he said. “He (Gilbert) had full knowledge of the whereabouts of his funds at all times. No decisions were ever made without his authorization. It’s just totally inappropriate. He knew exactly where his money was at all times.”
It’s not like Brule is broke. He still has some money left over from the deal he signed with Edmonton, where the problems first flared up.
But he says he’s been through hell since then, although it’s now been well over six months that he’s been off the medication.
Brule’s talked through his issues with a couple of professionals, and he’s seeing a sports psychologist to seek improvement in his performance. The problem first reared its head in earnest when Brule was with the Oilers, and he got down over the fallout from the broken relationship with his dad.
“I went to see a therapist, who prescribed temporary medication, and I really don’t believe in taking drugs for a problem like that. I thought it should have been dealt with in a different way. But the Oilers wanted me back on the ice as soon as possible. It’s a business and I understand that, and I’m not trying to throw the Oilers under the bus; they reacted as any team would and should.
“But the medication didn’t make me better, it made it worse. And all the while I was trying to play through this. Now I’ve talked those issues through, my head is clear, I feel good. It’s actually fun again to be on the ice. That’s the thing with my father. I’m really happy and grateful that he got me into hockey, it’s just that any regular relationship with him while I’m playing isn’t going to work.”
Brule’s back training with Dusan Benicky, who was his fitness guru when he was a star with the Giants, a man with whom he’s been training since the age of nine.
They’re using the skating treadmill that the innovative Slovak trainer developed — and with personal trainers Shaun Karp and Deric Whyte, who have his body fat down to eight per cent from his previous 13 per cent. Brule’s cardio capacity is at an all-time high.
Curiously enough, if Brule was at the top of his game, he’d be the perfect fit for the Canucks, in that he could be that right-handed third-line centre capable of stepping up to a No. 2 spot if something happened to Ryan Kesler or Henrik Sedin.
“Naturally I’ve thought about Vancouver because I’m here, and I know they could use a centre,” said Brule. “The strange thing is that when my agent (Edmonton’s Gerry Johannson) talked to them before, when I was a free agent, they said no because of my father. A lot of teams now think of me as a guy who is going to run around and hit guys, and I know often in that third-line role you need a guy who’s going to provide energy. But they forget I have some skill, which is why I was drafted where I was.”
Brule would probably be well advised to go for a tryout with an NHL team now, rather than sign a two-way deal. And Europe certainly seems more appealing financially than the AHL these days. But he hasn’t given up on hockey because now, for the first time in a long while, it’s going to be fun again.