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No Regrets on Turning Down $77Mln, Says SKA Forward Ilya Kovalchuk

Published: January 16, 2014 (Issue # 1793)



  • SKA forward Ilya Kovalchuk is looking forward to being back in Russia's uniform for the upcoming Sochi Games.
    Photo: s.yume / Wikimedia Commons

When Ilya Kovalchuk took his talents — a rare blend of skill, speed and strength — home to Russia last summer, he walked away from $77 million and the 15-year NHL contract he signed in 2010.

He still doesn't regret his abrupt retirement from the National Hockey League.

The 30-year-old Kovalchuk likes life in Russia, where he can spend more time with his family while playing for SKA St. Petersburg in the Kontinental Hockey League.

"I'm really enjoying everything here," Kovalchuk said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press after playing in Saturday's KHL All-Star game. "It's a great league. The game is different, but we are getting there. There are good players here for sure."

In any league, the forward is one of the best. He hits, he's fast and he can handle the puck. Oh, he can score.

The New Jersey Devils know that now more than ever.

In the 10 years before he left, Kovalchuk had an NHL-high 388 goals and 765 points, trailing just two others points-wise, while with the Atlanta Thrashers and New Jersey. At the age of 20 with the Thrashers in his third year in the league, he scored a league-high 41 goals and at least matched that total in each of the next five seasons.

Yet the three-time All-Star quit after talks with Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello, and was at peace with giving up guaranteed annual salaries of at least $11 million this season and in each of the next three seasons.

"I talked to Lou for sure and it wasn't just one day," Kovalchuk recalled. "I appreciate the way he handled the situation and I'm excited it worked out for both sides."

Lamoriello was testy when he discussed the news with reporters in July, saying "this wasn't a decision made by the New Jersey Devils."

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during today’s “Djembe and Vuvuzela,” a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of today’s round table discussion on “Interaction with Trade Unions” being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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