Ilya Kovalchuk isn't expecting a warm reception at The Rock Tuesday night when the former Devil and current King makes his first return to Newark since departing the team in 2013.
"I am pretty sure there will be a lot of booing, but I love that, so it's all good," Kovalchuk said, per NHL.com.
The Devils acquired Kovalchuk from the Atlanta Thrashers at the 2010 trade deadline, and in the offseason the Devils signed the goal-scoring winger to a 17-year, $102 million contract, a deal which was ultimately rejected by the NHL for cap-cirumvention. A 15-year, $100 million deal was approved.
After the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, Kovalchuk announced he was retiring from the NHL with $77 million remaining on his deal so the Russian could play for SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL.
Following five seasons in the KHL, Kovalchuk sought an NHL return and last summer signed a three-year deal with the Kings, the team which defeated the Devils in the 2012 Stanley Cup Final.
Kovalchuk said there are no issues between he and former Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello.
"We're always good," he told NHL.com. "I respect the guy and he's a true professional."