Kovalchuk ‘removed’ from KHL team after first game of the playoffs

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Former NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk has been “removed from the squad and sent back to Saint Petersburg to train individually,” according to his KHL team, SKA Saint Petersburg.

No specific reason was given for Kovalchuk’s removal, other than to say it was a “coach’s decision.” SKA’s head coach is another former NHL star, Sergei Zubov.

SKA has played one game of the Gagarin Cup playoffs, losing 3-2 in overtime to Lokomotiv. Kovalchuk, the captain, logged 24:26 of ice time in that contest and was a minus-2.

As you can see below, he was checked off the puck prior to the game-tying goal:

Kovalchuk has been in the KHL for the past three seasons. He has 16 goals and 33 assists in 51 games this season. His 49 points are the second most on his team.

The 32-year-old has one year remaining on his contract with SKA.

Related: ‘We’ll see’ about NHL return, says Kovalchuk