Ilya Kovalchuk surprisingly bolted from the NHL this summer, retiring from the New Jersey Devils and signing with SKA St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League in his native Russia.
It seems Kovalchuk didn't bring any of that American tendency to disagree with the government back to his homeland. Asked about Russia's vague -- but not so vaguely threatening -- anti-gay laws, Kovalchuk took the party line.
"I agree, of course," he said. "I'm Russian, and we all have to respect that. It's personal and, like I said, it's a free world, but that's our line. That's our country, so everybody has to respect that."
If it's hard to parse some of that -- we all have to respect that he's Russian? it's a free world until you get to Russia? -- Kovalchuk clearly isn't straddling any blue lines here. At least publicly, he supports the law that is kicking up controversy and concern heading into next year's Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi.
Kovalchuk was a prolific scorer in the NHL, but for much of the world outside of Russia, he was definitely off-target this time.