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BREAKING: Kovalchuk retires from NHL (!!!)

Jul 11, 2013, 3:43 PM EDT

Ilya Kovalchuk Getty Images

Stunning news out of New Jersey — Ilya Kovalchuk has announced his retirement from the NHL.

“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 release. “Though I decided to return this past season, [Devils 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.”

“After many conversations with Ilya over the past year on his desire to retire from the National Hockey League, Ilya’s decision became official today,” said Lamoriello. “On behalf of the entire organization, I wish Ilya and his family all the best in their future endeavors.”

Kovalchuk, 30, retires with career NHL totals of 417 goals and 399 assists in 816 games.

He also walks away from a $100 million contract with $77 million left to be paid out (around $60 million in the next six seasons).

Per CapGeek, Kovalchuk’s early retirement will leave the Devils with an annual $250,000 cap recapture penalty through 2024-25, the last season of his contract.

Lamoriello confirmed on a conference call with reporters that Kovalchuk’s contract with the Devils has been voided.

It’s expected Kovalchuk will sign with KHL club SKA Saint Petersburg, for whom he played during the lockout.

Related:

Kovalchuk threatening to stay in KHL

Kovalchuk wants to finish season in KHL

Kovalchuk insists he never planned on staying in KHL

Kovalchuk: 2013 was ‘probably my worst season’

148 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. modellforprez - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    Oh well. hey Jeruz Dusty Jeffrey is Available and Mega Cheap…. Dance Demon Dance!!!!

  2. tru2joelu4eva - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    “After many conversations with Ilya over the past year on his desire to retire from the National Hockey League, Ilya’s decision became official today,” said Lamoriello. “On behalf of the entire organization, I wish Ilya and his family all the best in their future endeavors.”

    Bryan Murray should take note of this.

  3. malvaren18 - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:18 PM

    Good for him, he wants to be near his family.

    • nj666 - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:33 PM

      screw him.

      • cofran2004 - Jul 12, 2013 at 10:56 AM

        dear NJD,

        ha…hahaha….HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

        ha….

        signed,

        rangers and flyers fans everywhere.

    • ewoods6 - Jul 12, 2013 at 8:32 AM

      His family was here, he just wants to be in the motherland….which is fine. Any one who rather live in fing Russia than here probably hates Freedom. So be it.

  4. mattyo99 - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    Devils will always find a way to win, i am a flyers fan saying this..

    • biasedhomer - Jul 11, 2013 at 6:20 PM

      They are going to be a lottery team next year, but they don’t have a 1st round pick.

  5. drewsylvania - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    Wow.

  6. drewsylvania - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:39 PM

    Next move: overpaying for Jagr.

  7. stakex - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    Setting aside my bias as a Rangers fan, I both feel for the Devils and understand Kovalchuk’s position.

    The Devils are screwed next year. Devils fans can say whatever they want, but when Kovalchuk was injured last season the team was ineffective at best and embarrassing at worst. While they have made some moves this offseason, none of them are going to make the Devils a good team without Kovalchuk. He was the pillar of this team, and without him their offense is in trouble. On the other hand, I can’t say I totally blame Kovalchuk. He wanted to go back to his home land, and be with his family which is understandable. Since the Devils seem OK with that, so be it.

    • drewsylvania - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:48 PM

      That’s about right. The Devils are screwed next year, but I don’t see how this makes Kovalchuk a dick.

      • jl9830 - Jul 11, 2013 at 7:00 PM

        You don’t see how backing out of a contract with a team after they pretty much built their team around you makes you a dick? They let Parise walk after committing to Kovalchuk, and now, after the best UFAs are signed, mind you, he just ups and leaves? That’s a complete dick move.

    • jl9830 - Jul 11, 2013 at 6:59 PM

      This is not understandable or acceptable for Kovalchuk to do. If he wanted to be in Russia, he should have thought about that before making a 15-year commitment to NJ. He also should have thought about announcing this before all the best UFAs were signed, or better yet, last year, so the Devils would have had a chance to re-sign Parise. They committed to him, and he screwed them.

      • mmmpierogi - Jul 11, 2013 at 8:03 PM

        (1) He signed the contract prior to the lockout and prior to going back to Russia to play in said lockout. I can’t blame him for changing his perspective after going back to where he’s from to play in the KHL. Until I hear otherwise, I’ve got to assume he had every intention of fulfilling all (or at least most) of his contract when he signed it in 2010. If you want to blame anything for this, blame the lockout.

        (2) Per Lamoriello: “After many conversations with Ilya over the past year on his desire to retire from the National Hockey League, Ilya’s decision became official today.” By Lamoriello’s own admission, it sounds like Kovalchuk gave the Devils forewarning, leaving them time to do some contingency planning of their own.

        Even as a Pens fan, I can’t even say I really want to see him go, but I don’t think his decision is as incredibly unjustified as you make it out or that it’s a situation where he’s “screwing” the Devils.

      • borderline1988 - Jul 12, 2013 at 4:04 PM

        “He signed the contract prior to the lockout”

        And so? If you sign a contract, aren’t you supposed to fulfill it in good faith? Can a team just ‘let a player go’ in the middle of a contract b/c they’ve decided to go in a different direction?
        Obviously, players get older and retire. But that’s still in good faith; everyone understands that when players get older, they will eventually retire. But Ilya is almost certainly going to sign with a Russian team…that’s not retiring, that’s abondoning your team.

        Look, at the end of the day, Kovalchuk can do whatever the hell he wants. He has a right to walk away and leave. But the team and fans have a right to be upset….he royally screwed them over for his own benefit.

        I wouldn’t necessarily call Kovalchuk a dick..but he did turn his back on his team and put them in a real tough situation.

  8. hazlydose - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:44 PM

    Without a first round pick next year (presumably top ten without Kovy), the Devils should be in a good place for a chance at McDavid in the 2015 draft. Why didn’t they give up the 30th pick last year?

    • hazlydose - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:45 PM

      29th* sorry

    • 950003cups - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:56 PM

      And pass up on future superstar Stefan Matteau? Surely you jest my friend!

  9. jkulha86 - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:55 PM

    He really put the Devils in a tough spot. Why not announce this a couple weeks earlier, then the Devils could look to the draft to try and find another scorer, or instead of trading for Schneider, trade for scorer to replace Kovalchuk.

    • jennettalia - Jul 11, 2013 at 6:24 PM

      ““After many conversations with Ilya over the past year on his desire to retire from the National Hockey League, Ilya’s decision became official today,” said Lamoriello.”

      This suggests to me that the Devils had a strong idea this would happen.

  10. northstarnic - Jul 11, 2013 at 6:03 PM

    To you morons calling him a scumbag (or worse) for this, the guy wants to go home to be near his family. Are you suggesting he should prioritize the NHL, a business that would not hesitate to treat him as an expendable commodity if given cause, over his family and home?

    • jl9830 - Jul 11, 2013 at 7:05 PM

      I’m saying he should have thought about this before making a 15-year commitment to New Jersey. The Devils let Parise walk because they relied on Kovalchuk’s commitment. He announced this after the best UFAs have signed elsewhere. He screwed the Devils here. And you don’t need to call people who disagree with you “morons.”

    • cofran2004 - Jul 12, 2013 at 11:00 AM

      people who back out of commitments because they miss their mommies are scumbags. sorry, chief.

    • dtownbeatdown - Jul 13, 2013 at 11:25 AM

      How are people morons for being upset one of their top performers are leaving way early on his contract? He does look like a dick regardless if he wants to be with his family or not, he shouldn’t had made a 15 year commitment then. And he is 30, I guarantee you see this guy try to come back in a few years. Just like most players that left then came back have all said the competition is not as good there. Not a devils fan by any means but I can feel for their fans.

  11. titansrbeast - Jul 11, 2013 at 6:20 PM

    Isn’t there a way he could bring his family to the US? Seems a bit ridiculous to retire at 30. People can say what they want, Kovalchuk’s a douche for making this move and I hope his name never gets mentioned in the NHL again, he doesn’t deserve anything. You’re retired, now go home and let us never see you again…. rofl.

    • jimeejohnson - Jul 11, 2013 at 8:08 PM

      You mad, bro?

  12. rebekah319 - Jul 11, 2013 at 6:25 PM

    All I have to say is Wow and second he talked about this all during the lockout well now you got your wish

  13. Nofoolnodrool - Jul 11, 2013 at 6:59 PM

    ravenscaps48 | Jul 11, 2013, 3:46 PM EDT
    Why? Congrats on the early retirement, hope you enjoy it…. But this is a head scratcher

    Being a fan of two classless fan bases I can see why you are scratching your head… Just saing.

  14. girouxed - Jul 11, 2013 at 7:29 PM

    Holy jumpin

  15. sportsfan18 - Jul 11, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    He isn’t and didn’t retire.

    He left his current employer for a new one in Russia.

    • jimeejohnson - Jul 11, 2013 at 8:04 PM

      He’s Russian. He decided to go back. Call me Captain Obvious, but how about this: he must like really cold weather, Russian cuisine, and Russian women. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Notice I didn’t mention Russian vodka; that’s because you can get the kill of all time Russian vodka here in the USA. Very few can afford it in Russia. Kovalchuk can. Maybe he didn’t like the way they drive in Jersey. What exit?

  16. northstarnic - Jul 11, 2013 at 7:36 PM

    Fair enough on the name-calling point. However, that was in response to posters who were hurling insults Kovy’s way. (And in regards to roenick, I stand by the moron comment 100%.)
    Also, as others have pointed out, no less than NJ’s GM basically said this is not a surprise and wishes I.K. well. Maybe he was trying to take the high road, but hardly the words of a bitter man.

    • lordstanley65 - Jul 12, 2013 at 10:07 AM

      Bravo!

  17. lionstigersandwingsohmy - Jul 11, 2013 at 8:56 PM

    Not sure if it has been addressed yet, but the NHL and KHL have (or at least had) an agreement to honor each others contracts. If the Devils were really pissed, they could fight this and Kovy would probably not be allowed to play in the olympics if that were the case. I find it really hard to believe there was not an agreement in place with the devils prior to this announcement. Many Russian players place more importance on the olympics than the cup. Kovy would not have risked not being able to play in the olympics.

    • cofran2004 - Jul 12, 2013 at 11:05 AM

      he retired. that killed the contract requirements. so no, his ability to play in the olympics is not affected, and the agreement to honor contracts between the two leagues is irrelevant.

  18. gregman98 - Jul 11, 2013 at 9:51 PM

    You all are easily distracted.

    Didn’t you see the adjacent story about the Pepsi Center’s new scoreboard????

    It’s summer, and a story that indirectly references a refreshing beverage…

    Stupefying to me why aren’t there 100+ comments there.

    C’mon people…get your priorities straight.

  19. lionstigersandwingsohmy - Jul 11, 2013 at 10:06 PM

    I was hoping the wings resigned Damien Brunner, but I bet he gets a decent offer from the devils. He definitely has the potential to be a 20 goal scorer in this league, although he needs to firm up the defensive portion of his game.

  20. tcclark - Jul 11, 2013 at 10:46 PM

    I understand this. I’d rather live in Russia than North Jersey too.

    • Paul Rizzuto - Jul 11, 2013 at 10:54 PM

      You’d rather live in Russia than one of the wealthiest parts of the country?

      • tcclark - Jul 11, 2013 at 11:01 PM

        Have you been to North Jersey?

      • Paul Rizzuto - Jul 11, 2013 at 11:07 PM

        have you? it’s one of the nicest parts of the country, you’re a moron

      • cofran2004 - Jul 12, 2013 at 11:07 AM

        anything with the words “new jersey,” and “nicest part of the country” is pure fiction. jersey is a trash heap.

      • tcclark - Jul 12, 2013 at 5:41 PM

        not all of it, but a lot of North Jersey is. There’s a reason people vacation in South Jersey

  21. Paul Rizzuto - Jul 11, 2013 at 11:06 PM

    have you? it’s one of the nicest parts of the country, you’re a moron

    • tcclark - Jul 11, 2013 at 11:53 PM

      hahaha you called me a moron in a run-on sentence and then posted it twice. I love irony.

  22. jmedd19 - Jul 12, 2013 at 7:20 AM

    At least the Devils stole Cory Schneider from the Canucks for Bo Horvat.

  23. blackhawks2010 - Jul 12, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    11 goals in 2013… Comrade Kovalchuk is done.

  24. lallin66fan - Jul 12, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    I guess he was “born to run?”

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