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Devils Forward Ilya Kovalchuk Retires from the NHL

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images(NEWARK, N.J.) -- New Jersey Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk announced on Thursday that he is retiring from the NHL and returning to Russia.

Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello signed Kovalchuk to a 15-year-contract in 2010 worth $100 million. He had $77 million remaining on the deal.

“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 statement. “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.”

Kovalchuk retires from the NHL with 417 goals and 399 assists for 816 points in 816 games.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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