Zach Parise left the New Jersey Devils last summer to sign with the Minnesota Wild as a free agent. He expected former teammate Ilya Kovalchuk to stay with the Devils for at least a while longer.
Kovalchuk surprised the hockey world Thursday afternoon when the Devils announced his retirement from the NHL. The Russian had 12 years and $77 million remaining on the 15-year, $100 million contract he signed with New Jersey in September 2010.
"I was pretty shocked when I found out," Parise told NextSportsStar.com. "It always seemed to me that he really liked playing in New Jersey. It's too bad. The Devils are losing a great player."
Current Devils also were surprised by Kovalchuk's decision.
"It's definitely shocking, just from the standpoint that he's retiring from the League, especially at his age (30), and he's still able to play," captain Bryce Salvador told The Star-Ledger. "It's different when you have to retire when it's the end of the road and you can’t find anything else. This is a permanent decision.
"It's shocking because of his contract. He can't just change his mind next year or a couple of years after that."