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Devils’ Kovalchuk walks away from NHL

Superstar forward Ilya Kovalchuk stunned the New Jersey Devils and the sports world Thursday, retiring from the NHL to return to his native Russia. In leaving, the 30-year-old Kovalchuk walked away from $77 million left on the 15-year contract that he signed with New Jersey in 2010, including guaranteed annual salaries of at least $11 million over the next four seasons. The Devils said that Kovalchuk had alerted general manager and president Lou Lamoriello earlier this year that he wanted to return home with his family after 11 seasons in the NHL. “Gentlemen, this wasn’t a decision made by the New Jersey Devils,” Lamoriello said at the end of a conference call held less than an hour after the retirement was announced. – Associated Press

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