New Jersey Devils: Anton Volchenkov Headed to KHL

Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE

New Jersey Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov is the latest player to opt for the Kontinental Hockey League in lieu of twiddling his thumbs in NHL lockout limbo.

Volchenkov will play for Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod in Russia’s premier professional hockey league. That pushes the number of Devils playing overseas to three. The 30-year-old joins teammates Ilya Kovalchuk and Marek Zidlicky as the only members of the Eastern Conference Champs to leave North America during the three week old NHL lockout.

Volchenkov would be entering his third season with New Jersey after spending the first six with the Ottawa Senators. The bruising blueliner led the Devils in hits (177) and blocked shots (125) last season. Volchenkov finally started to look at home in Newark last season, playing some of his best hockey since signing a six-year, $25.5 million contract with the Devils in July of 2010.

Vockenkov and a group of Devils had been renting ice at the Prudential Center to stay in shape until the NHL and NHLPA reached an agreement. The Volchenkov exodus is another sign that the lockout is not close to ending anytime soon.

It’s a shame the talks could not have progressed a little quicker. The NHL is going to quickly be relegated to back page news. The start of the MLB playoffs and the NBA season will make sure of that; and let us not forget the heart of the NFL season is in full swing.

The league has already erased its entire preseason schedule and regular season games cannot be far behind. [ EDIT: NHL announces the cancellation of the first two weeks of the regular season.] Once that happens the number of hockey players looking to play  elsewhere should hit a fever pitch. Let’s hope we don’t have to see that happen.

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