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Kovalchuk's brief stay morphs into 17-year pact @NHL

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -Ilya Kovalchuk and the New Jersey Devils have turned a 32-game test drive into the longest contract in NHL history.

The Russian left wing smiled throughout Tuesday's news conference, one day after agreeing to a 17-year, $102 million deal. Kovalchuk was wooed by the Los Angeles Kings, among others. But he stuck with New Jersey, which pried him away from the Atlanta Thrashers in February.

General manager Lou Lamoriello says Kovalchuk's brief stay last season was crucial to making the deal happen. Kovalchuk dismisses money as the main factor in his decision, pointing instead to long-term security and the chance to win a Stanley Cup with a team that boasts three titles in 15 seasons.

He will be 44 when the contract expires in 2027.

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