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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

Thursday, July 10


Enjoy the Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Regio Torino as they perform a free concert this evening in the Great Courtyard of the Winter Palace at 9 p.m.



Friday, July 11


Yevgeni Grishkovetz, a famous Russian author and director, will present his new book, “Pain,” at 7 p.m. in the Bukvoed book store at 46 Nevsky Prospekt.


Explore the mysterious Petrograd side of the city during today’s English-language guided tour. The trip starts at 7:45 p.m. at Gorkovskaya metro station. The price is 250 rubles ($7).



Saturday, July 12


Russian culture will be the focus of today’s Neva Rus Festival. Starting at noon, St. Petersburg’s 300th Anniversary Park will be a venue for a round dance master class, hand-to-hand fighting, folk music concerts and a traditional handicraft fair.


Visit today’s ShubaShorti urban flea market, where everyone can buy, change or just have for free various vintage knick-knackery, clothes and books. The event starts at noon at the Uppsala Circus at 44 Sverdlovskaya Naberezhnaya.


The 3rd International Opera for All Festival opens this evening with a free performance on Cathedral Square in the Peter and Paul fortress at 7 p.m.


The Tsunami Picnic Car Festival will allow visitors to see hundreds of exclusive cars outdoors and to watch races featuring professional drivers. The event will take place in the town of Sestroretsk at noon.


Coffee lovers will be able to try hundreds of different kinds of coffee and enjoy baristas’ shows as well as live music during Coffee Day in the Cultural Space Salon at 11 Bolshoi Kazachy pereulok.



Sunday, July 13


Starcon, a festival dedicated to science fiction and innovation, plans to lure visitors by exposing them to the best video games and comics as well as holding lectures on new and exciting technologies. The event will take place at Lenexpo, 103 Bolshoi prospect on Vasilievsky Island, at noon. The entrance fee is 850 rubles ($23).



Monday, July 14


More than 30 young artists will present their work including sculptures, painted skateboards and graffiti, during Boards & Paint, which will run through Aug. 3 at Loft Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, July 15


Be amazed by 50 life-sized moving dinosaur models at the Dinosaurs Show, the world’s largest such exhibition, which will be at Lenexpo on Vasilievsky Island until Sept. 21.



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