Kovalchuk Shocks Fans With Surprise “Retirement”

NEWARK – New Jersey Devils star Ilya Kovalchuk shocked fans this week with a surprise announcement that he was retiring from the National Hockey League so he could return to Russia and play in the Kontinental Hockey League where he could be closer to his family.

Kovalchuk, 30, spent the last four seasons with the Devils. He scored 417 goals during an 11 year NHL career.

“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 via a team-released statement. “Though I decided to return this past season, Lou 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.”

“On behalf of the entire organization, I wish Ilya and his family all the best in their future endeavors,” said New Jersey Devils President/CEO/General Manager Lou Lamoriello in a statement re

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