Originally posted on Fox - The Hockey Guy  |  Last updated 7/15/13
Ilya Kovachuk sent shock waves though the NHL by retiring from the New Jersey Devils so he could finish his career in Russia.He walked away from the last 12 years and final $77 million on his contract. The Devils signed off on his departure, but Kovalchuk gutted the franchise with his awkwardly timed decision. In the process of doing so made every general manager employing top Russian players a bit more nervous.The Kontinental Hockey League is becoming a worthy rival of the NHL in global competition. It is expanding well beyond the borders of Russia to Belarus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Slovakia and Ukraine.Russian billionaire businessman Gennady Timchenko bought Hartwall Arena in Helskinki and prompted the Finnish club Jokerit would join the KHL for the 2014-15 season.The KHL offers competitive pay, bigger ice surfaces and more player-friendly scheduling than the NHL. When Gary Bettman shut down the NHL last season, the KHL brought many Russia stars home and made a favorable impress
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