Alexei Kovalev has been named the assistant coach of Kunlun Red Star, a KHL team based in China.
Kovalev initially retired from professional hockey following the 2013-14 season. In his final season with EHC Visp of the Swiss National League B, he led his team to the championship, scoring 22 goals and 30 assists in 44 games at 41 years old.
“Unfortunately, I have to retire because of my injuries," Kovalev said following the championship. "I’d have loved to play until I’m 50, but the injuries from the last few seasons don’t let me continue my career. It’s a hard decision for me but it is what it is. It was my last season.”
Kovalev returned to EHC Visp for an 11-game stint in 2016-17, during which he tallied three goals and seven assists. He retired again and finished out the year as EHC Visp's Sports Manager and the development coach for the U20 team.
Kovalev will look to help Kunlun return to the KHL playoffs. Red Star finished fifth in the Chernyshev Division in their inaugural 2016-17 season, and were eliminated in the conference quarterfinals by Metallurg Magnitogorsk, EvgeniMalkin’s former KHL team. Red Star did not qualify for the playoffs last season, finishing seventh in the division.
Former Penguin Alexei Ponikarovsky has played for Red Star for the past two seasons, and served as captain last season.