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Elias understands Kovalchuk's dilemma

by Mike G. Morreale /
NEWARK -- New Jersey Devils forward Patrik Elias knows the stress that comes as an unrestricted free agent.

To that end, he understands what Ilya Kovalchuk has been going through. Then again, he never thought a decision would take this long.

Kovalchuk, of course, is still unsure where he'll be playing in 2010-11, although the Devils and Los Angeles Kings are the reported frontrunners for his services. The Kontinental Hockey League's SKA St. Petersburg, which offered him a $42 million, 3-year contract as reported by the Russian newspaper Sport-Express, is also a possibility.

Back on July 2, 2006, Elias, then a UFA, re-signed a multi-year contract with the Devils.

"I can speak from my experience that it happened so quick with me, but it was very stressful situation," Elias recalled. "It happened within 10 hours and it's very stressful, so sometimes you hope it would take more time to just kind of think it over -- just to make sure you're doing everything right. I'm very happy with my decision.

"It's (Kovalchuk's) choice and his right, but this is unusual for hockey," Elias continued. "To have a free agent who's taking his time this long."

Kovalchuk, who is believed to be seeking a contract that would pay him $10 million per season, is currently on the West Coast meeting with Kings President and General Manager Dean Lombardi.

"Obviously, he's taking his time and maybe showing a new trend for upcoming years," Elias said. "Why not take time and figure out the right team and the right price if you're in that position? I don't know if you'd want to drag it out this long. When you enter free agency, you should have an idea of what you want and where you want to go … what the pros and cons for each team are. That should make the decision a little easier."

Elias admitted he did send a text message to Kovalchuk when it was first learned that he might be leaning toward the Devils' offer believed to have been $60 million over seven years.

"I texted him a couple of days ago, but got no response," Elias said. "I think he's getting a lot of those. I just told him I heard he was coming back and that I hoped it was true and that was it. I didn't get any response … so."

When asked if he felt that Kovalchuk's desire to travel to California was a sign he didn't want to play for the Devils next season, Elias shrugged his shoulders.

"Only he knows what might be the reasons why he hasn't signed anywhere yet," he said. "I read what you guys write. There have been offers -- who knows what the reasons are. He's going to make a decision that's right for him, for whatever reasons. Obviously not only the hockey reasons, but everybody has different perspectives and different things to achieve with a new team. I stayed here four years ago because we were always winning and we always got a chance to play in the playoffs. I think that's what it's all about."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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