Fans go Kovy-crazy on Facebook, Twitter
Devils Army reacts to Kovalchuk contract approval
|Kovy's primed to be larger-than-life in Garden State.|
Reports confirmed Friday afternoon what every Devils fan had been waiting to hear: that the second attempt to sign the Russian superstar had succeeded. The news ended a summer saga with gut-wrenching twists and turns, rejections and grievances.
The new long-term deal was approved by the National Hockey League following an agreement with the Players’ Association to adopt regulations to govern long-term contracts of five years or more.
TSN reported shortly before 3 p.m. ET that the deal had gotten the go-ahead. That was just hours before the 5 p.m. deadline, which was pushed back first to 7 p.m., then nearly every hour until 3 a.m. ET Saturday morning, when NHL.com reported that Kovalchuk's deal had officially been registered.
Devils fans had reacted to Friday's reports with exhiliration – and relief.
"Congrats to the @NHLDevils! Cup-It-Up, boys!" tweeted film director and Devils fanatic Kevin Smith (@ThatKevinSmith). Twitter user @ATKim00 wrote, “Welcome home Kovalchuk!!”
“Amen...it is done....The END!” added @TheProgramBTR.
They were thrilled to know that one of the NHL’s most exciting players will be a permanent fixture in New Jersey for seasons to come. “Wooooo Kovalchuk is approved!!” exclaimed Twitter user @LaLoo1620.
There was plenty of Kovy love on Facebook, too. User Simon Rother posted, “A deal with the Devil! Woohoo, Kovy! I'm officially a Devils' fan because of you, now!”
The Devils open the 2010-11 regular season at home against Dallas on Friday, Oct. 8. Tickets go on sale Friday, Sept. 10. Expect to see a lot more No. 17 sweaters around the Rock.
“And now I will order my Ilya Kovalchuk jersey. It's a good day to be a @NHLDevils fan!” posted Twitterer @David_E_Wood. On Facebook, Nicholas Chambers posted, “Kovalchuk jerseys to be ordered. Pop the champagne it's over!!!!!!!! We got him for life!!!!!”
Kovalchuk arrived via trade from Atlanta on Feb. 4 and potted 10 goals and 17 assists over the remaining 27 games of last season. He added two goals and four assists in the playoffs, when the Devils bowed out to Philadelphia in five. It was hard not to wonder what he might accomplish over a full season with the two-time defending Atlantic Division champions.
On July 1, the 27-year-old became a coveted unrestricted free agent: Who wouldn’t want a two-time 50-goal scorer with 40-or-more in six straight campaigns? Kovalchuk's scoring prowess has been unmatched since his rookie season of 2001-02, and no one over that span has collected more goals (338).
Though at least one other team entered the mix, there was joy in Jersey on July 19, when the Devils announced they had gotten their man. A July 20 press conference at Prudential Center welcomed Kovalchuk back. The NHL rejected the deal the next day on the grounds that it circumvented the salary cap. The NHLPA filed a grievance, but an arbitrator upheld the League’s ruling on Aug. 9.
The second deal was signed on Aug. 27 and registered with little time to waste – rookies report to training camp on Sept. 13; veterans report for physicals on Sept. 17.
The Devils begin the preseason with road games versus the Flyers (Sept. 21) and Rangers (Sept. 25), before coming home to face the Rangers on Saturday, Sept. 25.
With just over a month to go before the new season, it's almost time to start the show.
"Alright, let's get this roster in order and do some damage this year!" wrote Facebook user Myke Rivera. "The best baby! Let's Go Devils!"
Follow the Devils on Twitter (@NHLDevils) and on Facebook (facebook.com/newjerseydevils).