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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, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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