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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

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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