NHL: NJ Devils RW Ilya Kovalchuk Retires

New Jersey Devils right wing Ilya Kovalchuk announced his retirement from the NHL on Thursday.

Jul 11 2013, 6:53pm CDT | by

NHL: NJ Devils RW Ilya Kovalchuk Retires
Photo Credit: Getty Images

New Jersey Devils right wing Ilya Kovalchuk announced his retirement from the NHL on Thursday. 

The main reason behind his decision is his desire to return to his native Russia, per the NHL's official website. Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said Kovalchuk signed the voluntary retirement papers and the team, in turn, voided the remaining 12 years of his contract. With the nullification of the remaining years in the contract, Kovalchuk would be able to play in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). 

According to ESPN, the final 12 years of his contract amount to $77 million. In addition, he is slated to play for KHL's SKA St. Petersburg next season, citing multiple Russian media outlets. 

Kovalchuk said it was a decision he took some time to make. 

"This decision was something i have thought about for a long time going back to the lockout and spending the year in Russia. Though I decided to return this past season, [general manager] Lou [Lamoriello] was aware of my desire to go back home and have my family there with me. The most difficult thing for me is to leave the New Jersey Devils, a great organization that I have a lot of respect for, and our fans that have been great to me."

Lamoriello said the team will have to make do with the situation at hand. 

"I can't worry about the timing right now. It is what it is, and you just go forward. Right now, we just have to take a step back to go forward, and we'll just re-evaluate what our options are and do the best we can, but we'll be ready come September."

Because of Kovalchuk's retirement, New Jersey will have to pay a cap restructure penalty of roughly $300,000 until the 2024-25 season, the expiration of the contract. ESPN New York's Mike Mazzeo says this is due to the cap advantage on Kovalchuk's contract was around $4 million over the first three seasons of the 15-year, $100 million deal which he signed in 2010.  

Kovalchuk amassed 417 goals and 399 assists for a total of 816 points in 816 career NHL games. He also represented Russia in three Olympic Winter games, nine World Championships, one World Championship and the 2004 World Cup. 


Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.


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