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Monday, September 20, 2010
Kovalchuk's right-wing shift

By Mike Hume

Devils' camp opened with a surprise, as Ilya Kovalchuk started by skating on the right wing with Travis Zajac and Zach Parise. Guess that answers our previous question about the seemingly strange statement of head coach John MacLean that Patrik Elias would remain on the left wing.

Two quick reactions: First, it's true that wings move around a lot in the offensive zone and positions don't really matter as much as you might think. That said, as a right-handed shot, one of Kovalchuk's favorite moves is to skate down the left-wing boards, cut across the faceoff dots and snap off a wrister. If he's flying down the other side of the ice, that's a very different maneuver.

Second, even if the move doesn't last and Kovalchuk shifts back to the left, it shows the Devils' players that the team isn't putting Kovalchuk on a pedestal and catering to his every preference. Had the team moved Parise to right wing to open camp after moving heaven and earth (and soon a pair of players) to get Kovalchuk, the reaction from the players and the media may have been very different. Plenty more below.

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