Kovalchuk abruptly retires from NHL
Superstar forward Ilya Kovalchuk stunned the Devils and the sports world Thursday, retiring to return to his native Russia. In leaving, the 30-year-old Kovalchuk walked away from $77 million left on the 15-year contract that he signed with New Jersey in 2010, including guaranteed annual salaries of at least $11 million over the next four seasons. Kovalchuk had alerted general manager and president Lou Lamoriello earlier this year that he wanted to return home with his family after 11 seasons in the NHL. Lamoriello also did not clarify whether the Russian planned to play in the KHL next season.
Rangers place Darvish on 15-day DL
The Rangers are confident pitcher Yu Darvish won’t be sidelined for long with a strained muscle in his upper back. Darvish was formally placed on the 15-day disabled list. The move is retroactive to July 7. Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine said Darvish should return after the All-Star break
Billups agrees to deal with Pistons
Chauncey Billups and the Pistons have agreed to terms on a contract. Billups is getting a two-year deal for $2.5 million each year. The first season is guaranteed. Billups returns to the Pistons after being traded to Denver in 2008 . . . Atlanta restricted free agent Jeff Teague signed a four-year, $32 million offer sheet with the Bucks. The Hawks have three days to match . . . A person with knowledge of the deal said the Nets have agreed to a contract with Andrei Kirilenko. The person indicated Kirilenko has accepted the taxpayer’s mid-level exception . . . Former Bulls star Scottie Pippen is being sued over a fight with an autograph-seeker at Nobu, an upscale Malibu, Calif., restaurant. Attorneys filed the $4 million lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of Camran Shafighi. Pippen was questioned but not arrested . . . The Timberwolves acquired Kevin Martin from the Thunder in a three-team trade sending Luke Ridnour to the Bucks. The Thunder received the rights to Szymon Szewczyk from Milwaukee . . . In the WNBA, Minnesota beat host Indiana, 69-62, and visiting Los Angeles routed Tulsa, 94-78 . . . The Oxford police chief said Mississippi guard Marshall Henderson appeared to be in possession of a small amount of marijuana and cocaine during a traffic stop in May. Henderson was suspended indefinitely on Wednesday for ‘‘violation of team rules.’’ Henderson was cited for not having proof of insurance.
Belize players refused to fix US match
A man who allegedly offered two Belize players large sums of money to fix a CONCACAF Gold Cup match against the United States has been identified by soccer officials. In a statement, CONCACAF said it and FIFA are investigating the bribery allegations made by Ian Gaynair and Woodrow West. The two players said they rejected the offer, made Sunday, and immediately reported it. Belize lost to the US, 6-1, on Tuesday . . . Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney will be sidelined for a month after suffering a hamstring injury in training . . . The US women’s soccer team is returning to Washington, D.C., for the first time in more than five years for a Sept. 3 exhibition game against Mexico . . . A person familiar with the situation told the AP that Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith will not attend Mark Sanchez’s camp for teammates in Southern California this week . . . Penn State’s former president, Graham Spanier, is initiating a libel and defamation case in Centre County, Pa., against Louis Freeh, whose university-funded report blamed Spanier and other school officials for failing to protect children from convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky . . . Dannel P. Malloy, Connecticut’s governor, signed a bill into law that lifts the state’s ban on mixed-martial arts matches starting Oct. 1.