Kovalchuk insists he’s not behind KHL coach’s firing

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Ilya Kovalchuk told R Sport that he isn’t responsible for Sunday’s firing of his KHL team SKA St. Petersburg’s head coach Milos Riha.

“All the rumors about some problems between me and Riha are nonsense,” Kovalchuk said. “We had a good personal relationship, and I want to wish good luck to him and [assistant coach Andrey] Potaychuk in wherever they will work next.”

It’s tough not to wonder what prompted the team to fire Riha, then.

The squad is currently on top of the KHL’s Western Conference with 61 points, tied for most in the league, so it’s hard to imagine the issue being about team performance.

Kovalchuk is also enjoying great personal success – he’s tied for fourth place in scoring with 29 points in 22 games – so the answer probably cannot be found in the standings or box scores.

If there indeed was a rift, Kovalchuk is certainly playing things closer to the vest than he did with short-lived New Jersey Devils bench boss John MacLean in 2010-11.