Ilya Kovalchuk's KHL season with SKA St. Petersburg doesn't appear to be over quite yet.
The former NHL-sniper returned for Game 1 of his team's second-round playoff series against Dynamo Moscow after he was stripped of his captaincy and benched for most of SKA's first-round series, reportedly due to poor play.
SKA won four straight over Lokomotiv without Kovalchuk after their Game 1 loss with the Russian in the lineup. Multiple reports suggested he would not dress for the club the rest of the playoffs.
But surprisingly, Kovalchuk was back with his team Monday for their series opener against Dynamo and in the lineup.
The 32-year-old Russian had reportedly reached an agreement with SKA to keep him under contract until the end of April, but would not play in the team's remaining games. Further reports suggested he was offered $1 million by SKA to terminate the deal.
Kovalchuk played 15:35 minutes in SKA's 3-2 win to take the early series lead.
Kovalchuk last played in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils in 2013, but has struggled this year, his third season with SKA. He has 16 goals and 33 assists with a minus-3 rating over 50 games. He was the MVP of the playoffs last season as he led SKA to the league title.