Agent: Kovalchuk’s departure won’t lead to Russian exodus

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Ilya Kovalchuk’s “retirement” from the NHL to head to Russia had some in the industry thinking it could lead to other Russian players ditching the North America for the KHL.

As Stephen Whyno of The Canadian Press shares, many insiders aren’t buying that. Agent Mark Gandler, whose client list includes Alexander Semin and Alex Burmistrov, says guys won’t start leaving in droves.

“I don’t think it’s an epidemic or anything like that,” he said. “I think each person makes his decision based on the circumstances that he’s in, based on his environment, his family, his upbringing.”

Kovalchuk’s choice was to head home and have his family join him there. That hasn’t stopped speculation that he was upset with how much money he lost thanks to taxes and escrow payments. In Russia he can make just as much money as he would in the NHL except it’ll be tax-free there.

As Gandler told Whyno, “The only incentive they can give you, in theory, is money.” That along with a less-busy schedule and thus more family time could just mean that much to him.