L’Artiste is gone. I am probably out on an island all by myself on this one, but I am disappointed and for one will miss his presence in the Senators lineup.
I love his style and how he operates. Plus, how many NHLers have their own plane and know how to fly it?
L’Artiste and what he stands for is like a rare exotic creature that’s on the verge of extinction in the NHL.
The young, hungry and somewhat robotic players who now make up the majority of rosters are boring. They all play hard, they all back-check and they all do whatever the coach tells them to.
Alex Kovalev is the exact opposite of any young star in the league these days. He’s like many talented players from past eras who refuse to do it any other way but the Frank Sinatra way.
What I don’t understand is why so many people are upset with Kovalev and what he brought to the Senators.
Everyone knew exactly what the Senators were getting when L’Artiste was signed to a two-year, $10-miilion deal. Expecting a now-38-year-old player to suddenly change his stripes is ridiculous.
When you play in the NHL, you are told what to do and when to do it, all the time. Most players are under constant pressure, nervous about how they’re playing, what the coach thinks. Will they get re-signed? Will they get traded?
There’s a reason L’Artiste was so liked by his teammates. Deep down, every player wants to be just like him.
NHLers do not even attempt to step on the ice and just play the game in the free-flowing, pond-hockey style perfected by L’Artiste. But a lot wish they could.
When coaches come down hard on players, they usually bend and buy in to what’s being sold. Most players are too afraid to challenge their coach. Not L’Artiste.
A couple of months ago, Cory Clouston challenged Kovalev by demoting him to the fourth line and threatening to make him a healthy scratch.
L’Artiste would not be rattled. He emerged from the showdown unscathed and on the first line the very next game.
Although I do admit that players sometimes admire a teammate who marches to his own beat, everyone knows that when it comes to crunch time, you need everyone to pull on the same rope.
Now that I’m done playing and the pressure is off, it is amusing to see how much harder some guys pull than others.
Top 5 heirs to crown
1. Alexander Semin — Just as skilled as L’Artiste and is showing the potential needed to take this crown.
2. Mike Green — Defenceman plays the position like no one else.
3. Ilya Kovalchuk — The secret’s out — he loves to set up for the one-timer.
4. Alex Ovechkin — Three-minute shifts will eventually catch up to you.
5. Phil Kessel — Fantastic young player who marches to his own beat.