In a run to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, the New Jersey Devils boasted a one-two punch of Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise, a combination that was especially frightening on an Adam Oates-designed power play. One summer later, all three of those figures are gone.
Kovalchuk’s former running mate and assistant coach seemed as surprised as anyone else upon hearing about the 30-year-old’s decision to retire from the NHL on Thursday.
Parise, 28, told Next Sports Star’s Josh Rimer that he was under the impression that the Russian winger enjoyed playing in New Jersey.
“I was pretty shocked when I found out. It always seemed to me that he really liked playing in New Jersey,” Parise said. “It’s too bad, the Devils are losing a great player.”
Oates essentially said to the Washington Post that Kovalchuk is taking his talents back to Russia.
“He’s a superstar, it’s kind of like when LeBron left Cleveland. It reversed two franchises that fast, it’s a different sport, so it’s not quite accurate,” Oates said. “Lou Lamoriello is the type of man, he’s dealt with adversity before. He’ll get through it no question, but still it’s arguably their best player they’re missing right now.”
He also thinks Kovalchuk’s departure is a lose for the league as a whole.
“It’s sad. He’s a marquee name in our league and a great player,” Oates said. “I obviously had a chance to coach him for a couple years, really liked him. It’s sad for the league, it’s one of our good players.”
Now he might just be the KHL’s best.