Letís get one thing straight: Alex Kovalev was not a $10-million bust in Ottawa.
He was only a waste of $8,658,536.60.†
That is, unless somebodyís picking up something, or the payment plan isnít quite as simple (which itís not) as $10 million (Kovalevís total salary over two years) divided by 164 (the total number of games during that time) times 142 (the number of games during which he was an employee of the Senators before being dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday).
No, Eugene Melnyk didnít exactly get his moneyís worth. But he knew full well what he was buying, too.
Thereís a reason Kovalev is called enigmatic. He has perplexed teams his entire career. Both his and his opponents. Most talented player in the NHL, Kovalev has often been called. Shame he doesnít use those skills more often. The Senators were getting a broken record, not a guy who was likely to break records.
But it was a gamble they had to take.
Donít blame Melnyk, or Bryan Murray or even Kovalev himself for Thursdayís divorce that saw the Senators get next to nothing in return.
Itís all Dany Heatleyís fault.†
If that spoiled suckhole hadnít whined his way out of a multi-million-dollar commitment, the Senators wouldnít have been in the position where they needed to find a potential game-breaker to replace him. There werenít a lot of options left in the free-agent pond when they made a splash. So they hooked Kovalev, and crossed their fingers.
They really only needed LíArtiste for the time they didnít have him. Oh, Kovalev would entertain fans with his slow, magical dashes through the neutral zone and into enemy territory. Not as many as he would drive crazy with his lazy ass, cruise on the back check. But that was all window dressing, good and bad.
What the Senators needed Kovalev for was his playoff poise and production (44 goals, 98 points, 116 games).
And, as luck would have it, the knee injury he suffered in the final days of the 2009-10 season prevented him from taking part in the post-season.†
Murray said afterwards he thought the Senators would have upset the Penguins in a series they lost 4-2. He might be right. Kovalev always left the impression he was waiting for a bigger moment. Like he was bored with the regular season. Until the arrival of this February, anyway.†
When it became apparent the Senators were not going to make a playoff run, Kovalev did what he could to get out of town. He didnít like Cory Clouston. He didnít like that Clouston would cut back his power-play time, or stick him on the fourth line, or leave him on the bench when the Senators threw out an extra attacker looking for the equalizer late in the game. He felt insulted.
It was obvious who he was referring to when he said, for Christmas, he wished people would get out of his head and let him play. He didnít mean the media. He didnít mean the fans. He meant his coach.
It was not the way to handle Kovalev, a big, proud man who needed to be pampered. To expedite his departure, Kovalev scored six goals and three assists in 10 games this month, auditioning for a trade, hoping it would be to a team like the Penguins.†
He got his wish, and donít be surprised if he thrives.
You should never bet on Alex Kovalev, a waste of $8,658,536.60 in Ottawa who could very well wind up in the Hockey Hall of Fame.