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ALEX KOVALEV: Quietly Retires as Member of the Florida Panthers

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

NEW YORK -- Panthers general manager Dale Tallon confirmed to The Miami Herald on Thursday night that 40-year-old Alex Kovalev signed his retirement papers and is no longer a member of the Florida organization.

Kovalev, who signed a one-year deal after the lockout ended, hadn't played for the Panthers since getting nine-plus minutes in a loss at Pittsburgh on Feb. 22.

The Panthers and Kovalev parted ways soon afterward as Kovalev practiced with the Panthers on Feb. 24 but was a healthy scratch that night against Boston.

He left the team soon afterward.

Kovalev never did become the NHL's eighth active player to hit the 40 mark since he didn't play after his birthday. Yet, what a career he had.

Beloved in New York and Montreal, appreciated in Pittsburgh and looked on with disdain in Ottawa, Kovalev won the Stanley Cup with the Rangers in 1994 and was the final active piece of Mike Keenan's bunch.

Kovalev played in 1,316 NHL games, scoring 430 goals with 599 assists. He also appeared in 123 postseason games, scoring 45 goals with 55 assists.

A Hall of Famer? Perhaps. Based on his playing days in Russia and with the NHL, he most definitely has a case.

That's a big reason why the Panthers didn't force him out by putting him on waivers and making him refuse an assignment to San Antonio.

"He's a classy guy who has had a great career," Tallon said last week.

In 14 games with the Panthers, Kovalev has two goals and three assists. His best game was his first as he got a goal with two assists in Florida's opening night victory over the Hurricanes.

PHOTO BY JOE RIMKUS JR./Miami Herald Staff

ALEX KOVALEV: Quietly Retires as Member of the Florida Panthers