Konstantin Koltsov, former NHL player and boyfriend of Aryna Sabalenka, dies aged 42

Konstantin Koltsov, the former professional hockey player and boyfriend of tennis player Aryna Sabalenka, has died at the age of 42.

“It is with deep sorrow that we inform you that the coach of Salavat Yulaev, Konstantin Koltsov, has passed away,” his Russian club Salavat Yulaev, which is based in the Russian city of Ufa, said in a statement. “He was a strong and cheerful person, he was loved and respected by players, colleagues, and fans. Konstantin Evgenievich forever wrote himself into the history of our club.

“May he rest in peace.”

In a statement of their own, Pittsburgh Penguins, his former National Hockey League team, added they “extend their deepest condolences to the family and friends” of Koltsov.

Koltsov was in Miami when he died, in what the Miami-Dade Police Department said was an “apparent suicide”. In a statement they said there was no suspicion of foul play.

The Belarusian was drafted by the Penguins in 1999 and played for the NHL club between 2002 and 2006. An explosive skater, Koltsov never developed a consistent scoring touch in the NHL after rising through the ranks of Russian hockey. But he was popular with Penguins fans because of his speed.

“He was a good kid,” said Eddie Olzcyk, Koltsov’s coach in Pittsburgh from the 2003-04 season through part of 2005-06. “He loved hockey, being in Pittsburgh. He just mostly had a carefree attitude, but when you were around him, he always smiled. He brought that to the rink every day. I got a boatload of texts this morning about him; my kids remember Koltsy. It’s just really sad.”

After his stint in Pittsburgh, he returned to Russia and won the league title with Salavat Yulaev in 2008 and more recently returned to the club as an assistant coach. He also represented Belarus at the 2002 and 2010 Winter Olympics.

Koltsov and the Belarusian world No 2 Sabalenka had been together for a few years and he was there for some of her biggest wins in tennis, including when she retained her Australian Open title in Melbourne earlier this year.

(Instagram/Aryna Sabalenka)

Sabalenka’s father Sergey, who was also an ice hockey player, died in 2019.

“I lost my father four years ago. We had one dream: that before 25 I will win a couple of Grand Slams,” Sabalenka said on the Netflix series Break Point. “And when he passed away, I started thinking too much about it.

“Now I’m 24 and there is zero (Grand Slams) in my pocket. I feel like I just put so much pressure on myself.”

Soon after that she won her first Grand Slam title at the 2023 Australian Open, then making it two this year in Melbourne.

Sabalenka has been training in Miami this week and is scheduled to play her first match at the Miami Open on Thursday or Friday against Paula Badosa, of Spain.

(Photo: Getty Images)

First appeared on theathletic.com

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