KHL keeps eye on Kovy rumour mill

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:26 AM ET

Though most expect Ilya Kovalchuk to get a re-vamped deal with New Jersey that passes the NHL smell test, rival KHL president Alexander Medvedev won't give up on luring the Russian native to the SKA St. Petersburg team, of which he is also the owner.

"Ilya knows that our proposal is still on the table," Medvedev said, further tittilating the media at Wednesday's World Hockey Summit by mentioning he received a message to call agent Jay Grossman as rumours flew that a second Kovalcvhuk contract had been rejected.

"It could be big news," Medvedev teased.

But NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said no such signed contract has yet been submitted. Vice-president Bill Daly met with Grossman and the Devils on Tuesday to give them the ground rules of a new offer after the first $102-million US, 17-year pact was spiked.

Terms of the KHL deal aren't known, but it's also believed to centre around a multi-year term.

DETROIT BOSS SEES RED

The media has put up with ridiculously rigid security and player access rules at the Olympic hockey venues for years, but now that an NHL owner has been inconvenienced, it has become one of the huge bones of contention in the league's attempt to get more of a say in how the tournament is run.

Detroit Red Wings owners Mike and Marian Ilitch, whose team had players spread over many teams in Vancouver, had to go through hoops to see them at dressing room level, post and prior to game action.

"Scheduling, access to the players by our GMs and owners ... those may sound like little things, but there's a longer list," said Bettman, who raised the issue with International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel for 2014 in Sochi.

"If I can't solve something small like this, I should retire," Fasel joked.

LINE CHANGES

Among the zingers at Wednesday's summit session was a quip from Igor Kuperman, a former NHL exec and a co-founder of the KHL, when asked the reaction in Sochi if Alex Ovechkin and Kovalchuk aren't allowed to play in the Olympics in their home country: "People forget about 1917, but there would be another revolution in Russia."

Toronto GM Brian Burke on any of his players bolting for Sochi without permission: "There will be no Lone Rangers on the Leafs".

Bettman on Fasel saying the NHL would expand to Europe over Fasel's dead body: "Some days he says things I don't understand. But I wish him a long life."

Bettman on putting a team in Quebec City: "I can't even begin to think about (that) unless there is going to be a new arena."

Medvedev on talk the NHL won't go to Sochi. "It's like putting poison pesticides in the soil."

Forward Jamie Langenbrunner on favouring small ice to big ice at the Olympics. "Make a play in the corner on big ice and you still have 50 feet to get to the net."

ICE CHIPS

The Sports Business Journal, quoting multiple sources is reporting that former head of the baseball players union, Donald Fehr, has agreed to become the next director of the NHL Players Association. When asked yesterday how the search was going, all Langenbrunner would say is the union was "hoping to have (the new director) in place by Nov. 1. That would be the way it's probably going to work." ... The Lightning has re-signed restricted free agent winger Steve Downie for two years and $3.7 million. Downie racked up 22 goals and 208 penalty minutes last season ... Raffi Torres has signed a one-year, $1-million deal with the Vancouver Canucks ... Defenceman Willie Mitchell has signed a two-year, $7-million deal with the Los Angeles Kings. He missed 34 games last year with a concussion.

LANCE.HORNBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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