New Jersey Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk announced his retirement from professional hockey on Thursday afternoon.


From an official statement by Kovalchuk released by the team:

This decision was something I have thought about for a long time going back to the lockout and spending the year in Russia. Though I decided to return this past season, Lou 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.”


The thirty-year old Kovalchuck still has twelve years left on his contract and by retiring leaves $77 million on the table. He retires with 816 points in 816 career games. Kovalchuk scored 417 goals and added 399 assists over his 13 seasons in the NHL as a member of the Atlanta Thrashers and New Jersey Devils.