ST. PETERSBURG, August 29 (R-Sport) – Former New Jersey Devils star Ilya Kovalchuk was officially introduced as a member of SKA St. Petersburg on Thursday and said he did not relocate to Russia “to sit around and wait for the Olympics.”
Kovalchuk signed a four-year contract with SKA on July 15, days after retiring from the Devils and walking away from $77 million remaining on his 15-year deal.
The 30-year-old, who scored 417 goals and added 399 assists in 816 NHL games, downplayed the Olympic connection Thursday, telling reporters he has a lot left to prove on the ice, and he intends to do so in the KHL.
“There’s no limit to perfection,” he said. “I’ve got room to grow. I didn’t come here to sit and wait for the Olympics. I’ve got to claw and work to prove everything on the ice.”
Russia is hosting the Winter Olympics in the Black Sea port of Sochi next February.
As for joining SKA, Kovalchuk thanked Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello for allowing him to leave and said he had made up his mind at the end of the NHL season he wanted to return to Russia.
“I’m very happy that it happened,” he said. “The KHL is developing and growing and at this point I want to be a hockey player in this league.”
SKA opens their season September 6 against Avangard Omsk.