Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 07/15/13 at 09:11 AM ET
from RIA Novosti,
Ilya Kovalchuk, who shocked the hockey world last Thursday by abruptly retiring from the New Jersey Devils, has signed a four-year deal with SKA St. Petersburg, making him the first major Russian hockey star in his prime to defect from the NHL to the KHL.
The deal, announced by the club on Monday, signals a coup Russian hockey officials have been fighting for since the mid-1990s, when a wave of players left for North America, depleting a proud hockey nation of its prized talent.
"We're a team but as we know, the role of the individual in history is large so the main effort of the club this offseason was directed at Ilya Kovalchuk, one of the stars of the hockey world," SKA president Gennady Timchenko said in a statement released by the team.
"Ilya has already proven he's a true leader on the ice and off."
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