Kovalchuk retires from NHL

Kovalchuk retires from NHL
July 11, 2013, 3:45 pm
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Despite signing a record deal a few years ago, Ilya Kovalchuk will be retiring.

The 30-year-old forward said he was going to retire on Thursday, three years after signing a 15-year, $100 million contract.

"This decision was something I have thought about for a long time going back to the lockout and spending the year in Russia," Kovalchuk said in a statement released by the Devils. "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."

Kovalchuk, who played 11 years in the NHL with the Atlanta Thrashers and New Jersey Devils, scored 417 goals and recorded 399 assists for 816 points.

During the NHL lockout, Kovalchuk spent some time in Russia to play hockey. Once the league resumed play, he recorded 31 points in 37 games for New Jersey. According to Jesse Spector of The Sporting News, the Devils will take on $250,000 a year on their salary camp recapture.

Kovalchuk was the No. 1 pick in the 2001 NHL draft and represented Russia three different times in the Olympics.