Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 7/11/13

UNIONDALE, NY - OCTOBER 02: Ilya Kovalchuk of the New Jersey Devils skates against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on October 2, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Devils 2-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Ilya Kovalchuk shocked the hockey world Thursday afternoon when he announced he was hanging up his skates. The New Jersey Devils forward announced his retirement from the NHL on Thursday at the age of 30. In doing so, Kovalchuk left $77 million on the table, as he still has 12 years left on a $100 million deal. Kovalchuk would have made $34.1 million combined over the next three years. “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. “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 Russian playmaker walks away from the with 816 points in 816 career games played. He scored 417 goals and added 399 assists over his 13 seasons in the league.
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