"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."
"After many conversations with Ilya over the past year on his desire to retire from the National Hockey League, Ilya's decision became official today," Lamoriello said in a statement. "On behalf of the entire organization, I wish Ilya and his family all the best in their future endeavors."
Kovalchuk, 30 years old, was under contract to be a New Jersey Devil until 2025. According to several sources the Devils will still have to forfeit their first round pick next season. Many are saying that Kovalchuk is leaving to play in the KHL for money but we should all keep this in mind...
There have been a lot of rumblings and anxiety about drafting and investing in Russian players with the existence of the KHL and this certainly isn't going to help put an end to that kind of thinking. We're going to examine what this means for the Devils as they move forward and the implications on the cap and all of that but for now I just wanted to put a thread up for you guys to discuss this breaking news.
Kovalchuk has 12 years, $77 million left on his contract.— Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) July 11, 2013
Cap recapture is not going to be that bad because they've saved only $3 million against cap so far with the structure.— Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) July 11, 2013
Devils will be charged $250,000 vs. cap for each season through 2024-25 as the cap recapture penalty.— Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) July 11, 2013
Devils do not have to pay Kovalchk if he's retired. Can void his contract once he officially retires.— Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) July 11, 2013
Pretty freakin' crazy. I am not even sure what to say right now other than "Wow..." and shake my head wondering how this happened. This isn't exactly hard-hitting analysis... but it looks to me like the Devils just got screwed. Perhaps there is something more to this that we aren't realizing yet. We'll do our best to keep you guys posted!
Let's... go... Rangers? Lulz.