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Alexei Kovalev officially headed to KHL

Jul 29, 2011, 7:45 PM EDT

Buffalo Sabres v Pittsburgh Penguins Getty Images

There were plenty of rumors that Alexei Kovalev was headed to the KHL this summer. Now, we have official word that former Penguins’ skilled winger is headed to Atlant Mytishchi in Moscow. The newly signed deal will send Kovalev to his native Russia for the next two seasons and very likely could spell the end of his North American career. Some would say a year or two too late.

Kovalev was acquired by the Penguins midseason in hopes that he would inject some offense into a team that was replacing the likes of Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. In 20 games down the stretch, Kovalev only scored a pair of goals and five assists as he failed to meet short-term expectations in the Steel City. Atlant’s General Director talked about the move to bring Kovalev to Moscow (via Google Translate):

“We have long fought for Kovalev and we’re very glad that we could still come to terms with such a talented striker. We hope that Alex can reveal a wealth of potential in the Kontinental Hockey League, and thereby help to Atlant to fight for the highest places in the next championships.”

If this is truly the end of the NHL line for Kovalev, he’s had a great career in North America. Taking a brief look back, the insanely talented Russian has put up 428 goals and 596 assists in 1,302 regular season games. After bouncing between the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins a few times, he ended up in Montreal for parts of five seasons, Ottawa for parts of two, and finally back to Pittsburgh for his last 20 games. The 38-year-old was drafted 15th overall in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft by the Rangers and broke into the league during the 1992-93 season. Over the course of his career, he scored 20+ goals in twelve separate seasons including a 44 goal, 95 point campaign in 2000-01. For a man known for his inconsistency, he consistently put up goals just about everywhere he went.

It was no secret that the Penguins weren’t interested in bringing Kovalev back for the 2011-12 season. He was a disappointment for the Ottawa Senators for the majority of his two years in town and continued the trend when he reached Pittsburgh. He’s been on the free agent market since July 1st but there hasn’t been much interest in North America—and if there was, they weren’t willing to spend the same amount of money that the KHL offering.

He’ll be remembered as one of the most skilled players over the course of his career. Hockey fans would be hard pressed to come up with too many players who had more pure talent than Kovalev. Hopefully he’ll be able to regain the fire with Atlant Mytishchi.

  1. derpdederpdederp - Jul 29, 2011 at 7:49 PM

    good riddance. he was an awful competitor who only showed up when he felt like it, and as far as Im concerned he helped cost Quebec City their NHL franchise. I hope this is the last we hear of this bum

    • stakex - Jul 29, 2011 at 9:02 PM

      I might have missed something, but how exactly did Kovalev help cost Quebec an NHL franchise?

      • derpdederpdederp - Jul 29, 2011 at 9:13 PM

        “but how exactly did Kovalev help cost Quebec an NHL franchise?”

        in the 1995 playoffs the 1st place Nordiques took on the 8th seed Rangers in the first round of a year where it looked Quebec was poised to go deep into the playoffs. in game 6 Kovalev took what can only be described as a tap on the back from a Nordiques players and fell to the ice like he had been shot. Sakic scored either the game-tying or winning goal (not exactly sure which) for the Nordiques on the play. instead of the goal counting, a penalty was called and the Rangers won the game and the series. Kovalev should have been called for diving as it was one of the all-time most obvious flops and just indicative of how much integrity and respect for the game Kovalev had when he played

        Kovalev technically didn’t cost them their franchise as there were many financial problems in QC. however, it stands to reason that had Quebec gone deep into the playoffs that year they could have turned things around

    • derpdederpdederp - Jul 29, 2011 at 9:03 PM

      anybody who gives this a thumbs down never watched Kovalev play more than a few games. the guy only gave 100% when he felt like it, and in the latter half of his career if he scored a goal that was the last shift of the game he played with an ounce of effort. he was truly talented but wasted that talent by not giving it his all on every shift, something that should be expected of every single NHL player from 4th liner to superstar

      • lgm717 - Jul 30, 2011 at 12:27 AM

        Your comments have to be some of the most absurd things I have ever read. Period. You are going to try and make us believe that by Kovalev taking a penalty, he was directly responsible for the downfall of an entire franchise??!? Get over it!! Move on with your life and let it go!! I assure you that if the franchise folded, it needed a lot more help then just Kovalev staying on his feet. You can blame it on what you want, whatever helps you sleep at night. But please keep your ignorant comments to yourself.

      • derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 12:34 AM

        “Kovalev technically didn’t cost them their franchise as there were many financial problems in QC”

        as you can see, I acknowledged it was financial problems that led to QC losing its team, but not going deep into the playoffs that year was essentially the final straw. also, if you pay more attention, Kovalev didn’t take a penalty. he drew a penalty when he should’ve been called for diving, especially since he was a chronic flopper

        the point Im really trying to make was that Kovalev played with no integrity or heart and for that reason nobody is sad to see him go

      • derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 12:35 AM

        never did I say he was directly responsible. perhaps YOU should keep your ignorant comments to yourself and spend some time learning to read instead

      • stakex - Jul 30, 2011 at 12:26 PM

        Wow, thats the most idiotic thing I have ever heard. Sure, your not saying he “directly” cost them their franchise… but your implying he helped the cause, which is such a big joke its not even funny. A deep playoff run would not have saved Quebec as the financial situation was a complete disaster. MAYBE if they had won the cup that year, but since they were eliminated in the first round…. its kinda hard to even suggest that was possible. Not to mention no one was going to beat the Devils that year.

        As for Kovalev, he drew a penelty for his team, and helped them win the game. Call it what you want, but its part of hockey. Have you even watched the NHL in the last 5 years? Almost every penelty called now adays is the result of a dive. I’m not a fan of that at all, but its the reality of the sport. Just because someone dives from time to time, does not mean they have no heart…. in fact, it shows they are doing what ever they can to help their team win. If you aren’t cheating, your not trying after all.

      • derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 12:54 PM

        calm yourself. it was a poor choice of words, no need to get your balls in a knot. his dive cut short the Nordiques final year, a year in which they could have made a run at the Cup. every time a player falls nowadays there is a penalty called and the players know that so they embellish like crazy. its an awful way to watch hockey be played but that’s the reality we live in.

        your comment shows you obviously never watched Kovalev play. the guy was a chronic flopper (check the vids) and I don’t think I ever watched a game in which he gave it his all from start to finish. he took his skill for granted by showing up when only when he felt like it. when you say “If you aren’t cheating, your not trying after all.” why don’t you give me some examples of Sakic, Lemieux, or Bourque cheating

  2. stakex - Jul 29, 2011 at 9:00 PM

    I was a huge Kovalev fan when he first entered the NHL with the Rangers. He had the talent to be one of the all time greats, if only he had the motivation to go with it. Even though he still had a really solid career, its a shame to think what could have been.

  3. thegonz13 - Jul 29, 2011 at 9:03 PM

    Dosvedanya and good riddance. No one wanted you on this side of the pond anyway!

  4. thegonz13 - Jul 29, 2011 at 9:05 PM

    And derp… Kovalev had NOTHING to do with Quebec losing its franchise!

    C’mon man!

    • derpdederpdederp - Jul 29, 2011 at 9:15 PM

      he took a dive that cost them what would ultimately be the last game and series for QC

      • stakex - Jul 30, 2011 at 12:29 PM

        …which had NOTHING to do with the franchise going bankrupt and being sold. Period.

        I don’t know how much simpler it can be explained to you.

    • whoreallycares3 - Jul 30, 2011 at 8:17 AM

      Exactly, I don’t care what people think of Kovalev but to even suggest a remote correlation to the Nords losing their Franchise is asinine. Sure you admit it had little to do with it but still it is just a silly suggestion.
      Why not blame the person that gave him a shot to the back? or the ref that made the “bad” call? or the NHL and the NHLPA for not implementing a salary cap and revenue sharing back in ’94/95.

      Anyway I hope that Quebec could eventually get a franchise back…the could be much more stable with the cap in place

      • derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 9:45 AM

        because like Ive tried to explain its just an extreme example of the lack of integrity Kovalev displayed throughout his entire career. him taking that dive that would have been worthy of an Italian soccer match cost QC a goal, the game, and the series. by no means Im I asking you to agree with me, but Im entitled to my opinion and I think Ive explained my stance well enough

  5. derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 12:39 AM

    plays like these are what he’ll always be remembered for.

  6. lgm717 - Jul 30, 2011 at 12:57 AM

    @derp:

    First of all, you only “acknowledged it was financial problems” AFTER someone called you out on your stupidity. Second, just because his flop was the last bad thing that happened to your beloved, so-called franchise, doesn’t mean that it was “essentially the final straw”. I’ll say it again, you’re bitter. Get over it and move on with your sad life. You want to dislike him because he didn’t respect the game? Go for it. You want to dislike him because he didn’t give 100%? Have at it. But to attempt to make a correlation between his fall and the franchise’s is stupid and ignorant.

    • derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 1:37 AM

      no idiot, he asked me what I meant so I expanded. I wasn’t even watching hockey when Quebec had a team but I wish they still had one. I don’t really have this connection to the team that you’ve fabricated in order to insult me. them losing that first round series as a direct result of Kovalev’s poor sportsmanship was the final straw and if you deny that you’re the ignorant one. you probably didn’t watch hockey then either. his flop took a key goal off the board and you cant argue that. as a result they exited the playoffs in the first round after being Cup favourites and then they moved out of town. that’s the correlation between his dive and the team’s downfall

      try to get this through your thick skull: I am not saying Kovalev’s dive was the main reason QC lost its team. that happened for financial reasons. but Kovalev’s lack of integrity cost the team a series and that series loss was the final straw whether you think so or not. it cost QC their team

    • derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 1:46 AM

      you’re really making too much of this, it was just a casual comment about Kovalev’s lack of sportsmanship. call me stupid and ignorant all you want but every post you write makes you look like the ignorant one (based on how you use the word I dont think you actually know what it means, maybe try getting an education instead of wasting your time on this site)

  7. derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 1:54 AM

    “Second, just because his flop was the last bad thing that happened to your beloved, so-called franchise, doesn’t mean that it was “essentially the final straw”.”

    the last bad thing to happen in a series of bad events is actually the definition of the final straw

    • ny64 - Jul 30, 2011 at 3:35 AM

      Your suggestion that he had ANYTHING to do with Quebec losing their franchise is laughable.First off,even if I granted your assumption that Quebec going further into the playoffs may have granted them a reprieve,the fact is they obviously weren’t “poised to go far” into the playoffs.They were a good regular season team that year that,like many other good regular season teams in NHL history,weren’t a good playoff team.And this is clearly demonstrated by the fact that they were beaten by a Ranger team that wasn’t particularly good themselves that year,an 8th seed that got SWEPT by the Flyers in the very next round.And what’s more,the Flyers themselves couldn’t get past the Devils in the following round.So you see,it’s obvious Quebec wasn’t going anywhere that year.I think you should stop blaming Kovalev and place the blame for Quebec’s failings where they belong,with the team itself.

      • derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 9:52 AM

        I just find it disgusting that Kovalev’s poor sportsmanship cost QC their final game and series. thats what I mean when I say he cost them their franchise. it’s unfortunate that the last season for QC was cut short because of Kovalev’s flop. don’t say that’s false because at the very least QC would have lived to fight for one more day. it’s not meant to be taken so literally, after all this is just a comment thread. whether or not they would’ve gona deep into the playoffs is up for debate but we’ll never actually know what might have been. the main point is Kovalev was not a model citizen and I hope nobody misses he worthless presence in this great league

      • derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 12:30 PM

        and btw the team won the Cup the first year it was in Colorado, so your theory of “They were a good regular season team…like many other good regular season teams in NHL history,weren’t a good playoff team” doesn’t really hold water. the team was destined for greatness but unfortunately not in QC

    • ny64 - Jul 30, 2011 at 2:51 PM

      The reason why the won the following year in Colorado is that they picked up KEY playoff type performers,people like Claude Lemieux and a guy named Patrick Roy.They did this because it was obvious from their first round elimination the year before that they were not yet a team that was built to win in the playoffs.And by the way,watching that play again on youtube for the first time in so many years it’s obvious that it WAS a penalty,and a dumb penalty at that.What purpose did it serve to spear Kovalev in the back at such a crucial time in the most important game of the year for them?

      • derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 4:28 PM

        of course Sakic and Forsberg had nothing to do with it, that Cup was all thanks to Lemieux the bone-headed cheapshot artist. and that is no penalty in the playoffs. even if it is, any player getting paid millions and competing for the Cup should take 20 slashes like that to help his team

    • ny64 - Jul 30, 2011 at 5:09 PM

      Who in god’s name suggested that Sakic and Forsberg had “nothing” to do with their winning the cup?!I’ve already said that they were a talented regular season team that just didn’t have the right compliment of players to go far in the playoffs,much like Washington has been in recent years.I personally despised Lemieux but if you think that he wasn’t a very valuable playoff player you don’t know crap about hockey.And I noticed that you conveniently ignored my mentioning Roy,he was,as everyone knows,invaluable to their winning that year.And,no,Kovalev shouldn’t have to take 20 slashes because slashing is illegal and a penalty!It was also,as I’ve already said,really dumb at this point in the game.And that kind of slash to the back is also cowardly,as is slashing in general.If you want to play physical hockey the right way then check somebody hard and cleanly,don’t use your stick.

      • derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 5:40 PM

        I didn’t conveniently ignore Roy. what could I possibly say? “Roy is overrated, he didn’t help them at all.” contrary to your belief Im not THAT stupid

        slashing is an incidental part of a game where you’re constantly using a stick to try and get the puck. only aggressive chops and two-hands get called. one-handed taps like this are NOT penalties and yes in the playoffs you should be willing to talk a thousand of those to win the Cup

      • derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 5:41 PM

        I meant to say only aggressive chops and two-hands SHOULD get called, but unfortunately that’s not the case in Gary Bettman’s new NHL, where tapping a guy with your stick or glove is an automatic 2 minutes whether it’s incidental or not

  8. thegonz13 - Jul 30, 2011 at 8:27 AM

    As a Quebec resident, I can assure all of you that the Nordiques move had nothing to do with hockey. It was all financial and, to a lesser extent, political. It was destined to move even if it had won the Cup. The weakness of the Canadian dollar, the rising salaries and the unwillingness of the city to build a new arena spelled the end of the Nords.

    Case closed.

    • derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 11:42 AM

      true, but you can’t deny Kovalev’s classlessness cost the Nordiques a playoff run or at the very least their final series. that to me is deplorable and is why I say he helped cost QC its team. that’s not meant to be taken as literally as everyone, especially that lgm717 moron, seems to be taking it

      • stakex - Jul 30, 2011 at 12:31 PM

        Losing to the 8th seed Rangers cost them a playoff run. You can’t pick ONE goal from that series and blame it for their loss. Perhaps if the Noriques didn’t lose three other games to the lowest seed they wouldn’t have been knocked out of the playoffs. Ever consider that?

    • derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 12:56 PM

      they were about to force a seventh game but never got that chance. maybe they just needed to get over the hump so to speak, like the Canucks did in the first round this year (yes I know they lost, but they made a Cup run and QC could have too)

  9. lgm717 - Jul 30, 2011 at 11:07 AM

    @derp

    I don’t think I need to argue with you anymore. It seems more and more people are jumping aboard the “Derp, you’re an idiot” bus. You are going to have your opinion no matter what. But please know that if your opinion is one of ignorance and you express that opinion on a public forum, you’re going to be called out for it. You make a comment like you did and then said yourself that you “wasn’t even watching hockey when Quebec had a team”. THAT, my friend, is the definition of ignorant. :)

    • derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 11:39 AM

      do us all a favour and look up the word ignorant you ignoramus. no I wasn’t watching hockey then but Ive seen the play and the game unlike you apparently

      • lgm717 - Jul 30, 2011 at 12:13 PM

        Apparently you need a new dictionary, or maybe the problem is you don’t have a dictionary at all.
        Ignorant (adjective) – 1. lacking in knowledge or training; unlearned: an ignorant man.
        2.lacking knowledge or information as to a particular subject or fact: ignorant of quantum physics.
        3.
        uninformed; unaware.

      • derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 12:23 PM

        now read that definition and take some time to think about it. Ive put forth an opinion, explained it, and backed it up. you don’t have to agree but you certainly don’t have a right to call me ignorant when it sounds like you don’t have a middle school education

      • stakex - Jul 30, 2011 at 12:36 PM

        You haven’t “backed up” your opinion with anything but more “opinion”…. which is not actually backing it up. Backing it up would require some proof of some kind.

        As for you being ignorant, thats a strong word. Dillusional works better for this situation IMO.

      • derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 12:42 PM

        I’ve expanded on my original statement as much as possible and provided you with a video of the incident since its obvious nobody else has seen it before. again, when I say he helped cost QC its team what I mean is this: the Nordiques were a stacked team that was poised to make a run at the Cup even if they were doomed to move out of town after that year. Kovalev’s ridiculous display of poor sportsmanship took that chance away from them. perhaps I didn’t choose the best wording to illustrate that point in the first place, but that was just for simplicity’s sake. I enjoy a good debate but the amount of crap coming from this Igm717 guy is getting tiresome

  10. derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    #9…tell me that’s not the the most pathetic thing you’ve ever seen

    • stakex - Jul 30, 2011 at 12:41 PM

      Let he take a hockey stick (a wooden stick such as they used back then), and whip you like that in the back where there is no padding. Lets see if you still think thats a dive afterwards. As someone who actually plays hockey, I can tell you that probably hurt like hell. Did he ham it up a bit? Sure… but it was still a slash to the back. At the very least they both could have been called for a penelty.

      So your video “proof” actually looks a lot less like a dive from Kovalev then you made it out to be. Its more an idiotic play on the part of the guy who slahsed him in the back… yet I don’t see you blaming him for the teams financial collapse.

      • derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 12:44 PM

        I play hockey as well and everybody knows you suck it up in the playoffs. Kovalev didn’t then, he didn’t when he was with the Habs, and he certainly won’t in the KHL. he took his skill for granted, showed up when he wanted, put many Italian soccer players to shame in the process. glad to know we’ve seen the last of him

  11. thegonz13 - Jul 30, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    derp, I agree that Kovalev’s dive was a poor display of sportsmanship, but it unfortunately is commonplace in hockey.

    It’s too bad the Nordiques’ season -and history- had to end like that but in the economic context that prevailed in 1995, the team was doomed anyway.

    • derpdederpdederp - Jul 30, 2011 at 12:35 PM

      it is more commonplace in hockey now that the players know anytime they fall down someone is likely to get a penalty. when Kovalev was doing this I dont think it was as prevalent and I know prior to the lockout there were way more diving calls than there are now. Kovalev’s was an especially pathetic display though and like you said the circumstances surrounding the team were just unfortunate. its obvious they were an extremely talented team that could have won many Cups in QC but had to do so in Denver instead

      • icelovinbrotha215 - Jul 30, 2011 at 2:12 PM

        It may have been a dive but what is the Nordiquies’ player doing with his stick? Kovy was your ‘typical’ Russian. Mad talented but didn’t seem to care as much as fans would like. As it has been mentioned before, the play had nothing to do with Nords leaving town. Besides they won a Stanley Cup in due time. Just gotta let it go my friend. Life is too short.

  12. lgm717 - Jul 30, 2011 at 1:44 PM

    @derp

    I, too, enjoy a good debate and we will leave it as just that, a debate. I will continue my beliefs and you continue yours. I will agree to disagree.

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