The latest on Ilya Kovalchuk, Ryan Callahan, Marc Staal, Sergei Bobrovsky, Jarome Iginla, Jamie Benn, Kimmo Timonen, Kyle Okposo and more.
SI.COM: Former New Jersey Devils star Ilya Kovalchuk said he supports Russia’s anti-gay laws. “I’m Russian and we all have to respect that. It’s personal and, like I said, it’s a free world, but that’s our line. That’s our country, so everybody has to respect that.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: To be fair, it’s highly unlikely any Russian player (especially one hoping to play for his country at the Sochi Olympics) will speak out against their country’s repugnant anti-gay laws. Still, if Kovalchuk really does feel that way, it’s disappointing to hear him blithely support discrimination in his own country.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Mike Halford cites a report from Newsday in which NY Rangers captain Ryan Callahan said he’s suffered no lingering after-effects from off-season shoulder surgery, but he won’t be ready for the start of the season. Teammate Marc Staal has fully recovered from his season-ending eye injury and will report to Rangers training camp on time. As for Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux skipping Team Canada’s Olympic orientation camp to rehab his injured finger, GM Steve Yzerman said it won’t hurt Giroux’s chances of making the team.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good to hear Callahan’s well on the road to recovery and that Staal’s vision wasn’t adversely affected by that eye injury. No question Giroux has a great shot of making Team Canada, especially if he plays well over the opening three months of this season.
RSPORT.COM: Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky turned down a $10 million per season offer from KHL team SKA St. Petersburg for a two-year, $11.250 million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some North American NHL fans believe Russian players only care about money. If that were the case, Bobrovsky wouldn’t have re-signed for less money with the Blue Jackets. For him, as for a number of Russian stars, it’s about the level of competition.
BOSTON HERALD: New Bruin Jarome Iginla got a head start with his new club yesterday, working out with several of his new teammates at Ristuccia Arena.It’s expected Iginla could line up with David Krejci and Milan Lucic, replacing the departed Nathan Horton.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars winger Jamie Benn acknowledged there’s a different feeling about his team in the wake of an off-season management change and several player moves, including the addition of Tyler Seguin. Benn also admitted not being invited to Team Canada’s orientation camp provides him with additional motivation entering this season. He’s yet to hear anything about receiving the captaincy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Benn plays well early in this season his chance of making Team Canada will significantly improve.
CSNPHILLY.COM: Philadelphia Flyers veteran blueliner Kimmo Timonen isn’t certain if this coming season will be his last, suggesting he’ll consider playing another season if this one goes well. Timonen has battled injuries in recent years which has hampered his performance.
NEWSDAY: NY Islanders forward Kyle Okposo is aiming for a spot on Team USA.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: The state of Minnesota is well-represented at Team USA’s orientation camp, with “Dustin Byfuglien, Justin Faulk, Jake Gardiner, Erik Johnson, Nick Leddy, Paul Martin and Ryan McDonagh; and forwards Zach Parise Nick Bjugstad, Kyle Okposo, T.J. Oshie, Derek Stepan and Blake Wheeler.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise there’s lots of candidates from “The State of Hockey”.
TAMPABAY.COM: Lightning prospect Jonathan Drouin is looking forward to pre-camp workouts, claiming the bruised left foot suffered earlier this month is fine.