Kovalev: Blame Ottawa
Winger whines his way out of NHL
BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
|Alex Kovalev skates during the warmup before facing the Canadiens at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Penn., March 12, 2011. (MARTIN CHEVALIER/QMI Agency)
OTTAWA - This just in from Russia: Alex Kovalev might actually care about something — at least the way he sees what happened in Ottawa.
Just like he did during his short, failed stint with the Senators, the selfish underachieving winger is blaming everybody but himself for why he’s out of the NHL and headed to the Kontinental Hockey League on a two-year deal.
After being banished to hockey’s Siberia — Atlant Mytischi — Kovalev fired verbal jabs at former Senators coach Cory Clouston and even took a few swipes at his friends in the media in an interview with Pavel Lysenkov of Sovetsky Sport.
In a story translated and posted on the web by Dmitry Chesnokov of Yahoo Sports, Kovalev maintained he’s not sure what Clouston, who was fired immediately following the season, was trying to accomplish.
Kovalev saved his harshest words for the Ottawa media. While here, he always claimed he didn’t care what the media thought. Evidently that didn’t stop him from forming an opinion.
“The fact I am criticized … There are different journalists,” said Kovalev. “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.”
Of course, Kovalev has left many a GM needing a drink after watching him perform and somebody should let him know you can’t get beer through security. Nobody is sure if they ever found a pulse when Kovalev — armed with a two-year, $10-million contract he signed with the Senators in July 2009 — did his medical testing at the start of the season, but that’s a story for another day.
The overpaid winger added: “I am annoyed when people write (nonsense). Figuratively speaking, to earn (50 bucks) they are ready to make up some garbage. But they show that they’re doing their job ... And in Ottawa they liked to channel their anger on hockey players. Regardless of how you played, they will certainly dump dirt on you and the team.”
But he did have kind words for the fans.
“Let (the media) make up nonsense about me. But I am happy with what I have done,” said Kovalev, whose NHL career included stints with the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens. “I have played not for myself but for the team and fans. Teammates have never said a bad word about me. Fans are happy.
“I am approached on the street in Montreal, New York and told one thing: ‘Don’t take the bad to your head. We always support and love you. You’re the best.’ Words like that warm your soul.”
Kovalev and Clouston had some legendary run-ins. At one point, Kovalev, after being benched and moved to the fourth line, told reporters he wished “some people would just leave him alone.”
“In two seasons I still couldn’t understand the ideas of our coach Cory Clouston. It seemed that he scoffed at some players,” said Kovalev.
Asked what he meant, Kovalev said: “You have to treat players kindly. If you leave someone on the bench, you should explain why it happened. This is coach’s job. But when a player is benched and doesn’t understand what is happening, he becomes lost.”
Kovalev claimed he had spoken with two NHL teams this off-season, but didn’t have any firm offers. He hasn’t ruled out finishing his career in North America once his two years in the KHL are complete.
“I chose Russia,” said Kovalev. “I didn’t want to spend my summers sitting on travel bags. I realized that I will not get a contract longer than one year in North America. Atlant gave me a two-year contract.”
Two more years than anybody in the NHL would give him and that’s why Kovalev will likely never be seen or heard from in North America again.