Just 2-years after signing a somewhat controversial 15-year, $100 million contract with the New Jersey Devils, star forward Ilya Kovalchuk has decided to walk away from hockey.
Or at least the NHL.
Kovlachuk, who came to the Devils after beginning his NHL career 11-years ago with the now defunct Atlanta Thrashers is...or was considered one of hockey's elite snipers.
Kovy is also fairly recently married and released a statement saying "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, 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"
The "Lou" he referred to in his statement would be Devils GM Lou Lamoriello who now has to fill a vital roster spot without the benefit of a 1st round pick. That pick would be this upcoming season as the Devils had to forfeit the pick as a penalty for the original long-term contract they tried to sign Kovalchuk to. The NHL did not like the arrangement and imposed heavy penalties on the team.
There are rumors Kovalchuk may end up playing in the KHL, which pays on a par with the NHL, even if the talent level at times is not quite the same.
We covered Kovalchuk during his stint in Atlanta and found him to be quite a fascinating person to talk to. Although rumored to be a bit aloof, we found him as he got older to be a very engaging thoughtful and self-aware person to talk to.
We wish him the best. Though we don't think Devils fans will be quite so understanding.