"For a guy who got off a plane after I don't know how long a travel day it was for him, I thought he looked pretty good. It's nice to have him back," DeBoer said. "You can see even in the scrimmages what he brings to our team. He had a goal and an assist and created a handful of other chances. It's nice to have him back in the fold."
Kovalchuk seemed surprised that there was speculation over whether he would leave Russia.
"Lou told me before I come talk to you that you might ask me about that," he said. "I just tell you what I said, I got a contract here and it wasn't a thing in my mind that I wouldn't come back."
Kovalchuk found playing hockey back home very enjoyable, noting fans hounded him as much there as NHL fans. The one thing his teammates are not going to let him forget is his so-called figure skating performance on Saturday as the skills competition before the All-Star Game in Chelyabinsk.
Teammates didn't bring it up, although DeBoer said the videotape is bound to find its way to a team meeting a few times this season.
"Actually there was a lot of smiling," Kovalchuk said of teammates' reaction to his figure skating. "It seems like everybody was happy to get together finally."
NOTES: Lamoriello said that C Adam Henrique has been cleared to resume skating. He had surgery roughly six weeks ago to repair a ligament in his left thumb. It will still be a couple of weeks before he starts shooting the puck. ... DeBoer plans to name the Devils' new captain before Saturday's opener at the Islanders. Kovalchuk refused to campaign for it, saying he's been a captain before. ... Top draft pick Stefan Matteau, up from juniors for training camp, scored a power-play goal against Brodeur on a shot from the faceoff circle. Devils F Patrik Elias shouted "Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!" from the bench, reminiscent of Howie Rose's call after Stephane Matteau, the rookie's father, scored in double overtime for New York in Game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conference finals. That goal was also scored against Brodeur. ... Lamoriello said "next question" when asked if Matteau might earn a spot on the team if he continues to score. ... Lamoriello also wouldn't shed any light on whether former Montreal Canadiens F Mathieu Darche would be offered a contract. He is on a tryout.