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Ilya Kovalchuk says he never thought he'd sign anywhere but New Jersey

July 20, 2010 |  2:17 pm

Some interesting comments from Ilya Kovalchuk at a news conference Tuesday in Newark, N.J., where he signed a 17-year, $102-million contract to stay with the New Jersey Devils.

Kovalchuk turned down a 15-year, $80-million offer from the Kings and visited Los Angeles last week, which would indicate he was taking the Kings' proposal seriously. But asked Tuesday if he ever thought he'd sign with another team, he said, "Now, if I look back, no." Then why was he wasting his time and the Kings' time by engaging in a nearly three-week process, if not to use them as leverage to get a lifetime deal in New Jersey?

Also intriguing was General Manager Lou Lamoriello's comment about the lengthy deal. While quick to say it's legal under the collective bargaining agreement, he also said, "I would agree we shouldn't have these," and he hinted that the long-term commitment was made at the urging of owner Jeff Vanderbeek.

Here's the rest from Tom Gulitti, who does a great blog for the Bergen Record.

-- Helene Elliott