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Kovalchuk makes surprise return to KHL playoffs

Russia Kovalchuk Hockey

FILE - In this May 13, 2013 file photo, Russia’s Ilya Kovalchuk celebrates his goal during the 2013 Ice Hockey World Championships match against Austria in Helsinki. Kovalchuk left the New Jersey Devils and retired from the NHL, leaving $77 million on the table last summer to go back home and play in Russia. In a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014, Kovalchuk said he has no regrets and looks forward to helping the host country win gold next month at the Sochi Games. (AP Photo/Lehtikuva, Jussi Nukari) FINLAND OUT


Ilya Kovalchuk is back in SKA Saint Petersburg’s lineup today, and is reportedly “trying very hard” against Dynamo Moscow.

The 32-year-old former NHL star was benched for all but the opening game of SKA’s first-round series defeat of Lokomotiv. He missed four games total.

Though Kovalchuk has one year remaining on his contract with SKA, there has been speculation through all this that he may attempt to return to North America for next season.

Of course, even if he wanted to, returning to the NHL for next season may not be possible, so a reconciliation with SKA may be his best bet.

Related: Kovalchuk reportedly stripped of captaincy