Devils' Kovalchuk retires

New Jersey Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk announced his retirement from the National Hockey League on Thursday.

"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," said Devils president, CEO and general manager Lou Mamoriello. "On behalf of the entire organization, I wish Ilya and his family all the best in their future endeavors."

Last season, Kovalchuk had 11 goals and 20 assists in 37 games with New Jersey.

"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 released by the Devils. "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."

Over an 11-year career with the Thrashers and Devils, Kovalchuk has 417 goals, 399 assists and 516 penalty minutes in 816 games.

The 30-year-old forward was selected by Atlanta with the 1st overall pick in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. He was traded to the Devils on February 4, 2010 and signed a 15-year, $100-million contract in September of that year.