Devils star Kovalchuk
retires from NHL
NEWARK, N.J. — Star forward Ilya Kovalchuk stunned the New Jersey Devils on Thursday, retiring from the NHL to return to his native Russia.
The 30-year-old Kovalchuk walked away from the $77 million that was left on the 15-year contract he signed with New Jersey in 2010, including guaranteed annual salaries of at least $11 million over the next four seasons.
The Devils announced the news Thursday afternoon, saying that Kovalchuk alerted Lou Lamoriello, the team’s president and general manager, earlier this year that he wanted to return home to Russia with his family after 11 seasons in the NHL.
“This wasn’t a decision made by the New Jersey Devils,” a testy Lamoriello said at the end of a conference call with reporters less than an hour after the retirement was announced.
Kovalchuk spent his last four seasons with the Devils. His best was the 2011-12 campaign in which he scored 37 goals. He had 11 goals in 37 games this season.
Kovalchuk scored 417 goals and 399 assists in 816 career NHL games. His best seasons were 2005-06 and 2007-08 when he scored a career-high 52 goals. He had three other 40-goal seasons.
Pirates’ Alvarez replaces Gonzalez in HR Derby
NEW YORK — Pedro Alvarez of the Pittsburgh Pirates has replaced Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies for the NL team in the All-Star Home Run Derby.
Major League Baseball said Thursday that Gonzalez has pulled out because of a sprained middle finger on his right hand.
Alvarez has hit 23 homers this season. Gonzalez began the day with 24.
Alvarez will join David Wright, Bryce Harper and Michael Cuddyer on the NL side for the event Monday night, a day before the All-Star game at Citi Field. Robinson Cano, Chris Davis, Yoenis Cespedes and reigning Derby champion Prince Fielder will represent the AL.
AP Source: Nets sign Andrei Kirilenko
NEW YORK — A person with knowledge of the deal says the Brooklyn Nets have agreed to a contract with forward Andrei Kirilenko.
The person, speaking Thursday on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been announced, says Kirilenko has accepted the taxpayer’s mid-level exception worth about $3.2 million. The contract includes a player option for the second year.
The Russian forward opted out of his $10.2 million deal for next season with the Minnesota Timberwolves and found a home with the Nets — owned by fellow Russian and former CSKA Moscow owner Mikhail Prokhorov.
The versatile forward is another strong addition for a Nets team that has loaded up this offseason, highlighted by the pending acquisitions of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett from Boston.
Spurs announce deals with Ginobili, Belinelli
SAN ANTONIO — Manu Ginobili has signed his contract with the Spurs and will be joined in San Antonio next season by Marco Belinelli.
Ginobili posted a picture of himself with his paperwork on Twitter on Thursday, writing that: “Now it’s official. I’ve just signed my fourth contract with the Spurs for two more years.”
The 36-year-old from Argentina has won three titles with the Spurs and helped them reach the NBA Finals this season despite battling injuries.
Belinelli averaged 9.6 points in 73 games last season for Chicago.
Reds put C Ryan Hanigan on DL with wrist injury
ATLANTA — The Cincinnati Reds have put catcher Ryan Hanigan on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left wrist.
The move was made before Thursday’s night’s game at Atlanta and was retroactive for a day.
The Reds called up veteran catcher Corky Miller from Triple-A Louisville. Miller will provide depth behind Devin Mesoraco, who is starting against the Braves.
Hanigan is batting only .193 with two homers and 14 RBIs. He went on the disabled list in April with a strained left oblique.
Mavericks sign free agent PG Jose Calderon
DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks have signed free-agent point guard Jose Calderon.
The deal was announced on Thursday. Agent Mark Bartelstein said last week the contract was worth $29 million over four seasons.
The 6-foot-3 Spaniard led the NBA in 3-point shooting at 46 percent last season. He had spent his entire eight-year career with Toronto before going to Detroit in a three-team deal that included Memphis’ Rudy Gay.
The 31-year-old Calderon played professionally in Spain for six seasons before coming to the NBA. He has career averages of 10.1 points and 7.2 assists and is a 40 percent shooter from 3-point range.
Berdych, Almagro make
Swedish Open quarters
BASTAD, Sweden — Top seeds Tomas Berdych and Nicolas Almagro began the Swedish Open by reaching the quarterfinals on Thursday.
Berdych and Almagro received first-round byes, and had contrasting wins.
Almagro, a three-time finalist in Bastad, got off to a rough start against fellow Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez but rallied to win 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.
His next opponent, Fernando Verdasco, also of Spain, beat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-1, 7-5.
Berdych, the No. 1 seed in the clay-court tournament, easily defeated Argentine Martin Alund 6-3, 6-0. It was the Czech’s first match since losing to Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon quarterfinals.
Next up for Berdych is Thiemo De Bakker, the Dutchman who survived two match points before eliminating Viktor Troicki of Serbia 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6).
No. 2 seed Vinci through to Palermo quarterfinals
PALERMO, Sicily — Second-seeded Roberta Vinci reached the Italiacom Open quarterfinals following a 6-2, 7-6 (3) victory over 2011 runner-up Polona Hercog of Slovenia on Thursday.
Vinci was broken four times in the second set by Hercog.
The Italian will face fifth-seeded Spaniard Lourdes Dominguez Lino, who beat Nastassja Burnett of Italy 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.
Third-seeded Kristina Mladenovic was eliminated after a second-round upset by Estrella Cabeza Candela of Spain. The 20-year-old Frenchwoman lost 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (6). Candela faces Renata Voracova in the quarterfinals.
Russell advances to
NEWPORT, R.I. — Michael Russell let a lead slip away in the second set and fell behind early in the deciding tiebreaker. That didn’t matter when he had the crowd cheering behind him.
Russell advanced to the semifinals at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships on Thursday by outlasting No. 3 seed Igor Sijsling of The Netherlands 7-6 (3), 6-7 (6), 7-6 (5) in the highlight match of the week so far.
In the other quarterfinal match Thursday, Nicolas Mahut, a wild card entrant, from France beat Michal Przysiezny of Poland 7-6 (5), 6-4.
Scheepers, Peer in final
eight at Budapest GP
BUDAPEST, Hungary — Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa reached her third quarterfinals of the year when she defeated Petra Martic of Croatia 7-5, 6-4 at the Hungarian Grand Prix on Thursday.
Scheepers’ next opponent will be Danka Kovinic of Montenegro, who beat Valeria Solovyeva of Russia 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.
Shahar Peer of Israel knocked out eighth-seeded Anna Tatishvili of Georgia 6-1, 6-1, leaving just three seeded players in the last eight.
Peer, who won her last WTA tournament in 2009, will face Romania’s Alexandra Cadantu.
From wire sources