Kovalchuk is expected to rejoin his NHL team following his participation in the KHL all-star game on Sunday in Chelyabinsk, Russia. The high-scoring forward was also tapped to be the captain of the league's West all-stars.
A delayed return is fine by the Hockey Night In Canada commentator, who suggested through his official twitter account, @CoachsCornerCBC, that even the Devils may have been happy the stay in Russia lasted longer.
"So Ilya Kovalchuk would rather stay in Russia and play in the KHL. Hmmm. And [sic] he'de like to miss the season in New Jersey. When he comes back that will really endear him to the NJ fans. I know one guy, I know he won't say it, would be happy.. [Devils' president and GM] Lou Lamoriello.
"Imagine Lou gets rid of that albatross around his neck of Kovalchuk's 15-year 100 million [US] dollar contract. Imagine all that money for a [g]uy that only scores 37 goals. I'm tellin ya, I'm not one for stats but get this one. Kovalchuk has led the league in giveaways [t]he past [two] seasons."
Cherry also said he believes there is someone else the team may miss more than Kovalchuk, and that would be former captain Zach Parise, who left the Devils during free agency to sign with the Minnesota Wild.
"I'll tell ya one more thing. He'll miss Parise who has gone to Minnesota. Parise got 16 assists on Kovalchuk's 37 goals.
"But I'm sorry to say Lou, [Kovalchuk]'ll be back."