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Alex Kovalev bashes Ottawa media, hints at possibility of eventual NHL return

Aug 8, 2011, 1:52 PM EST

Kovalev AP

If any player knows how tough the Canadian hockey media can be, it’s Alex Kovalev. The mercurial Russian winger spent parts of seven seasons with two Canadian teams: the Montreal Canadiens (2003-04 to 08-09) and the Ottawa Senators (09-10 to 10-11). Fair or not, media members have criticized the talented winger’s perceived lackadaisical nature for much of his career, but that scrutiny reached new heights north of the border.

Kovalev will be far away from those watchful eyes now that he signed a two-year contract to play in the KHL with Atlant Mytischi alongside fellow “enigmatic” forward Nikolay Zherdev. It’s a nice chance to put those things behind him, but if an interview translated by Puck Daddy’s Dmitri Chesnokov is any indication, some of those wounds still fester.

That candid interview covered a wide array of subjects, but the splashiest comments revolve around Kovalev’s critiques of former Ottawa Senators coach Cory Clouston and the Ottawa media. Here’s the funniest bit for your meme-creating pleasures.

“And the fact I am criticized… There are different journalists. My opinion of Ottawa journalists is that they don’t watch hockey at all. When they fly with the team and go through the [metal detector] at an airport, their bags are filled with beer. You realize right away what these people do when they write about the NHL.”

(Note to self: 1. Find these Ottawa journalists with bags full of beer; 2. Befriend them.)

Going beyond that hyperbolic and hysterical quote, Kovalev spoke about more tangible things, like the far-from-automatic adjustment of going from the NHL to the KHL. Is he worried that his fate will be similar to Evgeni Nabokov‘s aborted 2010-11 season?

The move from America to Russia is not always easy.

“That’s the whole point. I don’t agree with those who say ‘He was a cool guy in America, that’s why he will now beat everyone in the KHL wearing just one skate.’ When you have played almost your entire career on small rinks, it’s not that easy to move to the big ice. The game is absolutely different in Russia, a different mentality.

Perhaps the most interesting takeaway is that Kovalev might still have a hunger to return to the NHL. Could he pull a Jaromir Jagr and attempt a retirement tour after a brief sojourn in Russia? It certainly sounds like something he might consider.

“I want people to understand me correctly. It doesn’t mean I don’t like the Russian league. I like the KHL, hockey is improving in the country. It’s all great. But I have played in the NHL my entire life. Yes, right now it is interesting for me to play in Atlant. God-willing I will spend not two but four years in Russia. But in the future I would like to end my career in America. At least one more season and to put a full stop.”

Kovalev would be 40 years old by the summer of 2013, the next time he would be a free agent (unless he follows Nabokov’s example by terminating his contract). Who knows if a team would want him back – you can’t say never when the New York Islanders flirted with Alexei Yashin’s return – but the hockey world should root for a comeback for the chance to watch him speak with those beer-drinking Ottawa journalists one more time.

  1. derpdederpdederp - Aug 8, 2011 at 2:29 PM

    I thought we had finally heard the last of this clown. when you say “that scrutiny reached new heights north of the border” its safe to say thats because his lack of effort did the same. Im a Leafs fan so I got to see a lot of him the last few years and the level of compete he showed was just pathetic coming from an NHLer. no other way to put it. maybe he should just keep his mouth shut and disappear into Mother Russia never to return to the NHL again

  2. hockeyfan1701 - Aug 8, 2011 at 3:28 PM

    Maybe they can form the all half a$$ team with Yashin, Kovalev and Kovalev. They can play when they want and never back check……

    • hockeyfan1701 - Aug 8, 2011 at 3:30 PM

      Meant Yashin, Kovalev and Zherdev

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Aug 8, 2011 at 3:39 PM

        They’d be the best line in the KHL 30% of the time 22 games out of 54

  3. NAME-ME - Aug 9, 2011 at 4:15 PM

    While he was in Montreal,he was a fans favorite!He is a pretty cool guy outside the ice(with the fan).
    And on the ice,he might be one of the most talented player I have ever seen!No jk!
    He is strong,amazingly strong,agile(anyone that ever been to one of Kovalev practice will tell you;hes a magician with the puck!).He had everything to be a future hall-of-famer.
    But…
    Like you guys said…he play when and like he want(1 game out of…9,if hes 100% healthy!)
    But when he was “in the zone”,he was making the Bell Center in Mtl move!
    We all can question his heart and other thing,but nobody can denied his amazing talent!What a friggin waste.
    I’ll take him anytime over Scott Gomez and his 7m$/yr contract!

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