Last week, former Ranger (as well as Penguin, Ranger again, Canadien, Senator and Penguin…again) Alexei Kovalev signed a two-year deal with Atlant Mytischi of the KHL after not finding a suitor for his services this offseason.
Today, the former first-round pick of the Rangers explained to the Russian press why it didn’t work out for him towards the end of his career, and trials and tribulations he encountered during his final season in the NHL, mostly with the Senators’ media corps.
The winger said the Ottawa press “don’t watch hockey at all,” and that they’d pack beer in their suitcases when traveling with the team. Not all his anti-Ottawa feelings were directed at the media, though, as Kovalev also targeted the system, or lack-there-of of former Senators head coach Cory Clouston. Kovalev said “In two seasons I still couldn’t understand the ideas of our coach Cory Clouston. It seemed that he scoffed at some players,” and would bench players without telling them what they did wrong.
Kovalev also explained why it didn’t work out with the Penguins after he was dealt to Pittsburgh for the second time in his career at the trade deadline. “Everything was fine. I had played for Pittsburgh before. The atmosphere doesn’t change there. But my style didn’t fit with the game coach Dan Byslma was implementing. There is nothing else to explain it with.”
Well, there you have it. Kovalev has always had a reputation with the press as being a guy who didn’t bring it each night, and as he leaves for Russia, I guess he wanted to get a little bit off his chest. I’m sure this won’t change the press’ feelings of Kovalev, but I don’t think he cares much none-the-less.
As a Rangers fan, I will always remember Kovalev fondly, and I think he knows fans in New York still hold him fairly high regards, as he mentioned fans approach him in both Montreal and New York to this day. I’ve been watching a lot of old games from the 1994 playoffs, and Kovalev was one of the more underrated players on that Rangers team, often overlooked thanks to the strong play of Brian Leetch, Mark Messier and company.
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