In a shocking move, New Jersey Devils winger Ilya Kovalchuk has announced his decision to retire from the NHL. Kovalchuk, just 30 years old, stunned hockey fans with his abrupt retirement. He officially released a statement today to announce the move.
“This decision was something I have thought about for a long time going back to the lockout and spending the year in Russia,” Kovalchuk said in a press release. “Though I decided to return this past season, [Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello] 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.”
Kovalchuk had an impressive 11-year-career in the league he had decided to bring to a sudden end.
Devils GM Lou Lamoriello released a statement of his own:
“After many conversations with Ilya over the past year on his desire to retire from the National Hockey League, Ilya’s decision became official today,” Lamoriello said. “On behalf of the entire organization, I wish Ilya and his family all the best in their future endeavors.”
Lamoriello was a standout for the Devils and Atlanta Thrashers and his departure will be felt. The Devils didn’t anticipate having this big of a hole on their roster, but now they will have to look to the free agent market to find a replacement.