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Kovalchuk Wanted To Be In New Jersey Even After Contract Rejection

Ilya Kovalchuk said Friday he was not surprised that his original free-agent contract with the New Jersey Devils was rejected by the NHL.

“But I wasn’t really happy,” he said. “But we found a way how to make it work and that’s the most important thing.”

Kovalchuk said he never considered signing with another NHL team after his first contract was rejected and arbitrator Richard Bloch upheld the league’s rejection with his ruling on Aug. 9.

“I told [Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello] right away that the only team where I want to play in the NHL was New Jersey and that’s the only team we were talking to after that,” he said.

As a result of Bloch’s ruling, the NHL fined the Devils $3 million and took away their 2011 third-round draft pick and one first-round pick in the next four drafts. Kovalchuk said the penalties were “definitely not” fair.

“It’s always bad when your team got penalized,” he said. “But that’s the relationship between the owner and the GM and the league. It’s nothing to do with me.”

Kovy still ended up with a 15-year, $100 million deal. So, he has a lot to be happy about.