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Ex-NHL winger Konstantin Koltsov, former boyfriend of tennis star, dies at 42

Former Pittsburgh Penguins and Belarusian national team forward Konstantin Koltsov (R) died at age 42. Photo by Markku Ojala/EPA
Former Pittsburgh Penguins and Belarusian national team forward Konstantin Koltsov (R) died at age 42. Photo by Markku Ojala/EPA

March 19 (UPI) -- Former Pittsburgh Penguins winger Konstantin Koltsov, the former boyfriend of tennis star Aryna Sabalenka, has died, Russian hockey club Salavat Yulaev announced Tuesday. He was 42.

Miami-Dade Police detective Argemis "AC" Colome said Koltsov died in a apparent suicide in Bal Harbour, Fla. The Miami-Dade County medical examiner's office said its toxicology report was not yet available.

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About 12:39 a.m. Monday, Bal Harbour Police and Fire Rescue were dispatched to the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, 9703 Collins Ave., on report that a male had jumped from a balcony.

"The Miami-Dade Police Department, Homicide Bureau, responded and has taken over the investigation of the apparent suicide of Mr. Konstantin Koltsov ... No foul play is suspected," Colome said in a statement.

Koltsov was an assistant coach for the Kontinental Hockey League club.

"It is with deep sorrow that we inform you that the coach of Salavat Yulaev, Konstantin Koltsov, passed away," Salavat Yulaev said in a statement.

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"He was a strong and cheerful person, he was loved and respected by players, colleagues, fans. Konstantin Evgenievich [has] forever written himself in the history of our club."

Koltsov and Sabalenka, 25, a fellow Belarusian, started dating in 2021. He played in Russian hockey leagues before becoming the No. 18 overall pick by the Penguins in the 1999 NHL Draft.

Koltsov made his NHL debut in 2003 and appeared in 144 games during his NHL tenure, playing alongside Penguins legend and Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux and two-time Hart Trophy winner Sidney Crosby. He also played for the Belarusian national team.

Sabalenka last posted about Koltsov on Instagram in April, wishing him a happy birthday. She called him her "best friend and strongest support."

Koltsov often traveled to tennis tournaments to watch Sabalenka. The two-time Grand Slam champion and No. 2 player in the WTA Tour singles rankings is set to participate this week in the Miami Open. Main-draw play for the annual tournament starts Tuesday and runs through March 31 in Miami Gardens, Fla.

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Sabalenka is scheduled to face Simona Halep of Romania or No. 80 Paula Badosa of Spain in the Round of 64.

She participated in practice and remains active in the Miami Open, but is not expected to participate in media sessions.

American Jessica Pegula, the No. 5 player in the WTA singles rankings, said players heard the news of Koltsov's death Monday night. She said many players have offered support to Sabalenka in Miami Gardens.

"All you can do is really offer support for however she wants to deal with it," Pegula said. "You never know how someone is going to take it or how they want to grieve and everyone's so different. The best you can really do is just offer support. And you know, that's really comforting.

"I hope for her to know, that even though we're all competitors, and we're on the stage where we're trying to beat each other, at the same time, we're still somewhat of a family."

If you or someone you know is suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.

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