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Agent: Kovalchuk’s departure won’t lead to Russian exodus

Jul 13, 2013, 2:40 PM EDT

Ilya Kovalchuk Getty Images

Ilya Kovalchuk‘s “retirement” from the NHL to head to Russia had some in the industry thinking it could lead to other Russian players ditching the North America for the KHL.

As Stephen Whyno of The Canadian Press shares, many insiders aren’t buying that. Agent Mark Gandler, whose client list includes Alexander Semin and Alex Burmistrov, says guys won’t start leaving in droves.

“I don’t think it’s an epidemic or anything like that,” he said. “I think each person makes his decision based on the circumstances that he’s in, based on his environment, his family, his upbringing.”

Kovalchuk’s choice was to head home and have his family join him there. That hasn’t stopped speculation that he was upset with how much money he lost thanks to taxes and escrow payments. In Russia he can make just as much money as he would in the NHL except it’ll be tax-free there.

As Gandler told Whyno, “The only incentive they can give you, in theory, is money.” That along with a less-busy schedule and thus more family time could just mean that much to him.

  1. nj666 - Jul 13, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    scumbag russians. I wouldn’t believe a word they say.

  2. 950003cups - Jul 13, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    I do t get all this “escrow” crap. They take a certain amount of money (20%) and place it in an account. If the HRR is good, they get t all back, if its not, they lose a portion the it. That’s the deal they all signed. That’s how it’s always been since 2005. Why is escrow suddenly an issue?

  3. 950003cups - Jul 13, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    What pisses me off the most is Ilya knew he had a chance to win a Stanley Cup. He knows the grind it takes to get there, and knew he could get back if he were healthy.

    • hockeyflow33 - Jul 13, 2013 at 5:54 PM

      He wasn’t born here so I don’t know why you would think that the Cup is really important to him.

      • icelovinbrotha215 - Jul 13, 2013 at 7:24 PM

        People seem to forget that there is life outside of North America.

  4. jaredo10 - Jul 13, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    great timing for retirement jerk off and this is coming from a rangers fan

  5. quizguy66 - Jul 13, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    Only 29 Russians played in the NHL last year (down from 73 in 2000-2001). The exodus already has mostly happened. It really won’t have all that big an impact on the league at this point. U.S.-born players have taken up the slack (all the way up to over 20% of the league) practically double from 12 years ago.


    • biasedhomer - Jul 13, 2013 at 5:27 PM

      I find that hard to believe. Only 29 Russians? There’s at least 1 Russian on every NHL team.

      • icelovinbrotha215 - Jul 13, 2013 at 7:26 PM

    • babykaby - Jul 16, 2013 at 8:32 AM

      It won’t have any impact? Only that the NHL will no longer be able to claim it has the best players in the world, that’s the impact it will have. Look at who the award winners have been in recent years. A lot of Russians/Europeans on the list, you know of course, the Swedes, Finns, etc. will follow to the KHL eventually. I don’t want the nhl to be nothing but canadians. I want all the best players in the world to be in the nhl. When I watch hockey I want to see the best. Any and every true hockey fan would agree with me.

  6. num1eaglesfanyo - Jul 13, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    Like anyone cares what a rangers fan says.

    • nj666 - Jul 13, 2013 at 3:10 PM

      Like anyone cares what a pathetic eagles fan has to say. hows that “dream team”

    • icelovinbrotha215 - Jul 13, 2013 at 7:28 PM

      Oh boy. Here we go ha…

  7. LampyB - Jul 13, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    +1 on having no credibility as an Eagles fan.

  8. blackhawkslove - Jul 13, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    This is all I could think of when reading this article.

  9. chazxcore - Jul 13, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    In about 10 yeas, Russian players will pretty much be obsolete from the NHL. Outside of a few big names, they pretty much are.

    • chazxcore - Jul 13, 2013 at 4:43 PM


    • 19inarow - Jul 13, 2013 at 5:28 PM

      Yeah, the writing’s on the wall, isn’t it? I remember when Mogilny was trying to make it over here, when no one thought — or even wanted — Russians playing in the NHL. Looks like I’ll see it come full circle.

  10. blackhawks2010 - Jul 13, 2013 at 6:09 PM

    Let them go play inferior hockey in the KHL. Losers.

  11. mnwildnstar - Jul 13, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    I guess Don Cherry was right!

    • babykaby - Jul 16, 2013 at 8:23 AM

      He’s a big part of the problem with his unending Russian prejudice and hatred. I would hate to be a Russian playing in the NHL, most of them get absolutely no respect from the media.

  12. yousuxxors - Jul 13, 2013 at 6:41 PM

    maybe he was just didn’t like here.

  13. channelguy - Jul 13, 2013 at 7:47 PM

    Russians in the NHL will be down as long as the KHL owners are willing to lose huge amounts paying big salaries before small audiences without big TV money. The salary cap here makes it hard to compete with what they are willing to pay there. Toronto lost Komarov, a good checking winger, because the KHL team paid him three times what the Leafs could. But can the KHL teams keep doing this? And for how long?

  14. President Charles Logan - Jul 13, 2013 at 8:40 PM

    send them all back !

  15. heynyc61 - Jul 13, 2013 at 9:33 PM

    Let them go… No big deal. It’s there right… Yes there is life outside North America

  16. girouxed - Jul 13, 2013 at 11:07 PM

    people are funny.

    Scumbag Russians? How is he a scumbag for wanting to play where he was born for more money. Everyone here commenting would do the same thing in his position. Think about how different Russia Is from the US. Imagine yourself as an American/Canadian playing in Russia. Would you really want to be there if you could play at home where everyone speaks your language (which is completely different from the language they speak there) would you want to play infront of a bunch of weird foreigners and not know many people?

    Cut the guy a break.

    • killerpgh - Jul 14, 2013 at 11:12 AM

      If he left as a free agent I would hold nothing against him. But leaving 3 years into a 15 year (originally 17) contract makes it a dick move on his part.

  17. yousuxxors - Jul 14, 2013 at 4:21 AM

    omg he left the good old USA to go back to his home country for more money. if you lived in Russia working and got offered more money to work back home ….. would you leave and be considered a scumbag?

    • mpg44 - Jul 14, 2013 at 8:55 AM

      That really depends , if you signed a contract for 15 years stating that you would not leave

    • mpg44 - Jul 14, 2013 at 8:56 AM

      That really depends , if you signed a contract for 15 years stating that you would not leave , then yea…..that makes him a scumbag!!!

  18. s2mikey - Jul 14, 2013 at 8:07 AM

    Can’t blame the guy for being sick of the USA stealing his money via obnoxious taxes. Why do you think rich people move out of high tax states like NY and California? I would too. Taxes are simply too high and our govt is way too bloated and can’t stop spending money it doesn’t have. It’s even worse knowing your tax dollars get wasted on freebies for losers, wars, govt employee benefits, and whatever other garbage they waste it on. No thanks. Good for him.

    • jimeejohnson - Jul 16, 2013 at 1:39 PM

      “..your tax dollars get wasted on freebies for losers…

      Nice! Enjoy Kooterville.

  19. 950003cups - Jul 14, 2013 at 11:06 AM

    So when his wife decides to leave him because a guy like Prokhorov offers her a better life, he’ll understand I’m sure.

  20. jimeejohnson - Jul 16, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    Have to change the old slogan “The Russians are coming” to “The Russians are going.”

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