Konstantin Koltsov, Former Penguins Player and Boyfriend of Aryna Sabalenka, Dead at 42

The former hockey player has been dating the No. 2 ranked female tennis player in the world since 2021

Aryna Sabalenka Instagram Konstantin Koltsov and Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka Instagram Konstantin Koltsov and Aryna Sabalenka

Konstantin Koltsov, a former hockey star who played for the Pittsburgh Penguins and competed in two Olympics, has died. He was 42.

The news was confirmed by the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) team, Salavat Yulaev Ufa, where he was part of the coaching staff. "It is with deep sorrow that we inform you that Salavat Yulaev coach Konstantin Koltsov has passed away," the team said in a statement posted online.

“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,” the statement continued, adding that "Koltsov won the Russian Championship and the Gagarin Cup as part of Salavat Yulaev, and did a great job on the team’s coaching staff."

The Penguins also acknowledged his death with a statement posted to social media. "The Penguins extended their deepest condolences to the family and friends of former Penguins forward, Konstantin Koltsov," they said.

<p>Aryna Sabalenka/Instagram</p> Konstantin Koltsov and Aryna Sabalenka

Aryna Sabalenka/Instagram

Konstantin Koltsov and Aryna Sabalenka

Koltsov played professional ice hockey for 18 years, competing in the IIHF World Championships and the 2002 and 2010 Winter Olympic Games for Belarus.

Koltsov was first drafted into the NHL in 1999. He was part of the Pittsburgh Penguins for three seasons, from 2002 to 2006. He played 144 NHL games, according to the team.

He later played for the Kontinental Hockey League, from 2008 to 2016, before officially retiring from the sport in November 2016.

Since 2021, the former hockey player has been dating professional tennis player Aryna Sabalenka, who is ranked No. 2 in the world.

Aryna Sabalenka Instagram Konstantin Koltsov and Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka Instagram Konstantin Koltsov and Aryna Sabalenka

They went Instagram official with their relationship in June 2021, as Sabalenka, 25, shared a photo of Koltsov kissing her cheek. "It's good when there is someone who is able to understand my madness😅," she wrote in the caption. “But you won't get bored with me, right @koltsov2021 ? 🤣❤️."

On Koltsov’s birthday in April, Sabalenka shared a sweet video montage of clips of the couple together and photos of them, writing in the caption, “Happy birthday my love❤️🙈❤️HB❤️. You are my dearest person, my best friend and my strongest support❤️❤️🥰. I hope we will have everything we planned❤️ I love you 😘😘😘.”

<p>Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios</p> Konstantin Koltsov in 2004

Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios

Konstantin Koltsov in 2004

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. 

Koltsov reportedly has three children from a previous relationship: sons Daniel, Alexander and Stefan.

On Instagram, Sabalenka has shared rare glimpses into her life with Koltsov's children, including a sweet photo with his youngest son, Stefan. She also once wrote of his youngest son, "Stefan loves me," in a reply to a follower's question during a Q&A on her Instagram Story in December 2022.

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.