Dany's 'help is needed'

New Senator Alex Kovalev hopes sniper Dany Heatley returns to Ottawa. (Sun Media/Tony Caldwell)

New Senator Alex Kovalev hopes sniper Dany Heatley returns to Ottawa. (Sun Media/Tony Caldwell)

SHANE ROSS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:26 AM ET

Surrounded by about 30 wide-eyed kids wearing Alex Kovalev T-shirts, Alex Kovalev pulled on his own Senators jersey, stared straight into the cameras and uttered the words everyone in Ottawa is going to hold him to.

"I'm telling you one thing," he said as reporters lifted their pens to their notepads. "I'm coming in here, any team I go to, I compete as hard as I can."

How can he dog it now?

How could he disappoint those kids?

What would he say to 18-year-old Justin Payer of Aylmer, whose jersey he just signed? The first Kovalev Sens jersey sold in the city, which he shelled out more than $200 for on July 8, two days after the 36-year-old left-winger bid adieu to Montreal and signed a two-year, $10-million contract with the Senators.

Ottawa fans know he is a major talent, tallying 941 points in 1,151 NHL games. They also know his reputation as an inconsistent player, one who takes the odd night off.

Not true, Kovalev said, the media made that up. Further, he said he's never had a problem with a coach.

Nonetheless, he knows fans will be judging him.

"It's up to me to bring them on my side," he said. "The only way I can do it is play my best."

More?

"My first priority was to sign here and try to play as long as I can. I'd love to play till I'm 50, or as long as my body holds out."

Kovalev, it seemed, was saying all the right things as he got acquainted with his new home, met a few of his new teammates, and addressed the Ottawa media in person for the first time as a Senator.

Then one reporter asked him about Dany Heatley.

"It's up to you guys," he told the media. "If you make it more comfortable for him, I'm sure he'd have no problem to stay."

For someone who has played in intense media markets like New York and Montreal, we can only assume he was joking.

After all, he might feel some of that discomfort himself if he doesn't live up to his word.


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