Kovalchuk retires from NHL at 30

Wire Reports

Star forward Ilya Kovalchuk stunned the New Jersey Devils on Thursday, retiring from the NHL to return to his native Russia.

The 30-year-old Kovalchuk walked away from the $77 million that was left on the 15-year contract he signed with New Jersey in 2010, including guaranteed annual salaries of at least $11 million over the next four seasons.

The Devils announced the news Thursday afternoon, saying that Kovalchuk alerted Lou Lamoriello, the team’s president and general manager, earlier this year that he wanted to return to Russia with his family after 11 seasons in the NHL.


“This wasn’t a decision made by the New Jersey Devils,” a testy Lamoriello said at the end of a conference call with reporters less than an hour after the retirement was announced.

Lamoriello declined to disclose anything about his conversations with Kovalchuk relating to the surprising retirement.


Seven-way tie in U.S. Senior Open

Kenny Perry shot a three-under-par 67 and is tied for the lead in the U.S. Senior Open at Omaha, putting together a solid start in his bid for a second straight win in a senior major.

Perry, who won the Senior Players Championship two weeks ago at Fox Chapel, Pa., made five birdies against two bogeys.

He has plenty of company atop a crowded leaderboard.

Michael Allen and Jay Don Blake also shot a 67 in the morning, and Gary Hallberg, Mark O’Meara, Tom Lehman and Fred Funk posted the same score in the afternoon.

Defending champion Zach Johnson shot a seven-under 64 and is tied with Camilo Villegas for the lead after the opening round of the John Deere Classic at Silvis, Ill.

Matt Bettencourt made the field as a late alternate and shot a six-under 65. He’s tied for second with Daniel Summerhays and Brendon de Jonge.

Phil Mickelson eased back into links golf with a six-under 66 in the Scottish Open, leaving him behind two Englishmen after a low-scoring first round at Inverness.

John Parry, ranked No. 471, held the clubhouse lead after a bogey-free 64 and Simon Khan (65) also tamed the Castle Stuart course to finish alone in second.

Angela Stanford and Catriona Matthew shot eight-under 63s to share the first-round lead in the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic at Waterloo, Canada, two strokes ahead of top-ranked Inbee Park.

Park is trying to become the first golfer to win four consecutive LPGA Tour events since Lorena Ochoa in 2008.

Raul Jimenez scored off a corner kick late in the first half, and Marco Fabian converted a penalty early in the second as Mexico bounced back from an opening-game loss to beat Canada, 2-0, in a CONCACAF Gold Cup group-stage game at Seattle.

Mexico, which lost, 2-1, to Panama on Sunday, climbed back into contention heading into Sunday’s Group A finale against Martinique in Denver. Those two teams are tied with three points each.

Panama, a 1-0 winner over Martinique in the first game Thursday at CenturyLink Field, leads the group with six points ahead of its Sunday game against Canada, which was eliminated.

Michael Russell advanced to the semifinals in the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships by outlasting third-seeded Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands, 7-6 (3), 6-7 (6), 7-6 (5), in the highlight match of the week so far at Newport, R.I.

In the other quarterfinal match Thursday, Nicolas Mahut, a wild-card entrant from France, beat Michal Przysiezny of Poland, 7-6 (5), 6-4.

Second-seeded Roberta Vinci reached the Italiacom Open quarterfinals with a 6-2, 7-6 (3) victory over 2011 runner-up Polona Hercog of Slovenia at Palermo, Sicily.