Originally posted on Tireball.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)
Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America Ilya Kovalchuk is retiring from the NHL leaving behind 12 years and $77 million, The 30-year-old informed the New Jersey Devils that he plans to return to Russia. “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 released by the team. “Though I decided to return this past season, Lou [Lamoriello, general manager] 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.” Kovalchuk scored 417 goals and registered 816 points in 816 career games with the Devils and Atlanta Thrashers.
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