After all the Ilya Kovalchuk drama of the past few weeks, it would now appear the Russian star is staying put.
Despite conflicts with the SKA St. Peterburg coaching staff and reports that he was both eyeing a North American return or a move to China, Kovalchuk says he’s staying with his current team.
“I have a contract with SKA for one more season,” Kovalchuk said, via Aivis Kalnins. “It will be a pleasure and I will be happy to represent them for the remainder of my contract.”
Kovalchuk, 32, is under contract with St. Petersburg through 2016-17 but there were reportedly discussions to terminate his deal early when he fell out of favour with head coach Sergei Zubov and was bench for a significant portion of the KHL playoffs.
A Moscow correspondent for Agence France-Presse reported last week that Kovalchuk was leaving SKA for the KHL’s expansion club in China.
“China? What China? They don’t have a hockey team there just yet,” Kovalchuk said.
Kovalchuk was stripped of his captaincy during SKA’s tumultuous first round in the playoffs. It was announced that he would sit out the remainder of the post-season, but Kovalchuk returned for Game 1 of his team’s second-round matchup.
The former NHL star had 16 goals and 33 assists in 50 regular-season games this season, good for sixth in KHL scoring. He failed to register a point in the four playoffs games he did play.
SKA was swept in the conference final by CSKA Moscow. Zubov, reportedly, is now the odd man out.