Alexei Kovalev

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Alexei Kovalev
Alexei Kovalev 2011-04-23.JPG
Kovalev with the Penguins during the 2011 playoffs.
Born (1973-02-24) February 24, 1973 (age 41)
Togliatti, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Height 6 ft 1 in (185 cm)
Weight 222 lb (101 kg; 15 st 12 lb)
Position Right Wing
Shot Left
NLB team
Former teams
EHC Visp
NHL
New York Rangers
Pittsburgh Penguins
Montreal Canadiens
Ottawa Senators
Florida Panthers
USSR
Dynamo Moscow
National team  Russia 
Unified Team
NHL Draft 15th overall, 1991
New York Rangers
Playing career 1989–2013

Alexei Vyacheslavovich "Alex" Kovalyov (Russian: Алексей Вячеславович Ковалёв, Russian pronunciation: [alʲɪkˈsʲɛj kəvɐˈlʲof]; born February 24, 1973) is a Russian professional ice hockey right winger who currently plays for EHC Visp of Switzerland's National League B.[1] During his career he played in over 1,300 National Hockey League (NHL) games over 18 seasons for the Florida Panthers, Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins (on two separate occasions), and the New York Rangers (also on two separate occasions), with whom he was originally drafted and won a Stanley Cup in 1994. He also played in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) with the Atlant Moscow Oblast.

Playing career[edit]

Alexei Kovalev was drafted by the New York Rangers in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, first round, 15th overall. He became the first Russian born player to be drafted in the first round in the history of the NHL. Best known for his stickhandling skills, dangling and wrist shot, he became an important part of the Rangers 1994 Stanley Cup run, finishing with the third-most points for New York in the playoffs. Kovalev, Alexander Karpovtsev, Sergei Nemchinov, and Sergei Zubov were the first Russians to have their names engraved on the Stanley Cup.[2] The Rangers' Stanley Cup win is one that's well remembered in Europe because of the first Russian names on the Stanley Cup, as MSG Network broadcaster Al Trautwig said in an essay for Garden of Dreams.[2]

During the 1994–95 NHL lockout, Kovalev returned to Russia to play for his hometown team Lada Togliatti, the defending International Hockey League champion from 1994. Kovalev scored 8 goals and 8 assists in 12 games. Kovalev occasionally stops in Tolyatti to give clinics at his old hockey school.[citation needed] He also participated in the Lada Tolyatti 30th anniversary game, and scored a hat trick for the Lada veterans team.[citation needed]

Just 14 games into the 1998–99 season, on November 25, 1998, he was traded, along with Harry York, to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Petr Nedvěd, Sean Pronger and Chris Tamer. While only putting up 46 points in 63 games with the Penguins, he managed a strong effort with 12 points in 10 postseason games. The next few seasons, he recorded two of his best seasons in the NHL with 76 and 95 points.

In a trade to mainly reduce their salary, Pittsburgh sent Kovalev back to the Rangers on February 10, 2003. He was sent, along with Dan LaCouture, Janne Laukkanen and Mike Wilson for Mikael Samuelsson, Rico Fata, Joel Bouchard, Richard Lintner and cash.

On March 13, 2004 he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for Jozef Balej and a second round selection in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. While only managing 3 points in 12 games in the regular season, Kovalev broke out in the 2004 playoffs, where he registered 6 goals and 10 points in 11 games for Montreal.

He spent the 2004–05 NHL lockout playing for Ak Bars Kazan, in the Russian Super League (RSL), where he registered 23 points in 35 games. Kovalev played for Russia in the 2005 World Championships in Austria, and was named the tournament's best forward.

As an unrestricted free agent, he re-signed with Montreal to a four-year contract, worth $4.5 million per year, on August 3, 2005, prior to the start of the 2005–06 NHL season. He scored his 300th career goal and recorded his 700th point on December 20, 2005 against Dominik Hašek in a 4–3 win against the Ottawa Senators.[citation needed]

In 2006, Warrior signed Kovalev to endorse their hockey sticks. Warrior designed a custom shaft known as the AK27.

In 2007, Kovalev sparked controversy when he allegedly criticized his team, coaching staff and the Montreal media in an interview done with a Russian reporter in his native language. Though the reporter who conducted the interview later rescinded Kovalev's quotes, and the tape she used never surfaced, a majority of the fans and members of the media believe the criticism to have actually happened.[citation needed] This story was especially controversial due to the poor performance by Kovalev in the 2006–07 season, amassing only 18 goals, 29 assists for a total of 47 points.

During the 2007–08 season, Kovalev found a resurgence playing alongside linemates Andrei Kostitsyn and Tomáš Plekanec, recording a total of 35 goals, 49 assists for a total of 84 points in 82 games. As of the season's completion, he stood at the 94th spot of the top 100 all-time NHL scorers.[3] Because of his inspired play, Kovalev was awarded the Canadiens' captaincy on two occasions during the season, replacing the injured Saku Koivu in his absence.

The following season, in 2008–09, Kovalev was named captain of the Eastern Conference at the 2009 NHL All-Star game in Montreal, and won Most Valuable Player honors as a result of his two goals, assist, and game-winning shootout goal.[4] Late in the season with the Canadiens, Kovalev scored his 100th goal with the club on March 31, 2009, against former teammate and Canadiens goaltender Cristobal Huet of the Chicago Blackhawks.[5] At the end of the week, he was named the NHL's first star for the week ending April 5 after scoring 2 goals and 7 assists, helping lead the Canadiens to 3 wins during that time.[6]

Kovalev with the Ottawa Senators.

On July 6, 2009, Kovalev signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the Ottawa Senators as an unrestricted free agent.[7] On December 25, 2009, Kovalev was excluded from the roster for the Russian men's hockey team for the 2010 Winter Olympics, to the surprise of fellow countryman Evgeni Malkin.[8] On January 3, 2010, he scored a career-high 4 goals in a 7-4 win against the Philadelphia Flyers. [9]

He was selected as a reserve by Team Russia for the 2010 Winter Olympics should an injury occur during the tournament.[10]

On November 22, 2010, Kovalev netted his sixth goal of the season, scoring his 1,000th point in his career, notching the goal at exactly 10:00 of the first period against the Los Angeles Kings.

Kovalev's 2nd go around with the Penguins, March 2011.

On February 24, 2011, his 38th birthday, Kovalev waived his no-trade clause to be traded back to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a conditional 7th Round Draft Pick.[11] The pick would have been upgraded to the sixth round if the Penguins had reached the second round of the playoffs, which they did not. At the time of the trade, the Penguins were without twelve of their regulars, including Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Kovalev's return to Pittsburgh was brief, as general manager Ray Shero announced on May 28, 2011, that he had no intention of re-signing the underachieving forward.[12]

After failing to sign with an NHL team for the 2011-12 season, Kovalev returned to his native Russia to play with the Atlant Moscow Oblast in the KHL.[13] In June 2012 he was released from the two-year deal he signed with Atlant Moscow Oblast, at which point he declared his desire to return to the NHL.[14] "Hopefully, I'll find an NHL team," Kovalev told the Montreal Gazette.

After the 2012–13 NHL lockout, Kovalev was given a tryout by the Florida Panthers,[15] eventually signing a one year contract with Florida.[16] "You could see how talented they are and they want to be in this league. All I want to do is help them. …I know I can match anyone in this locker room. I can still play this game," Kovalev said about the Panthers.[17] In his first game as a Panther, Alex scored three points (1G, 2A). He also assisted on teammate Jonathan Huberdeau's first NHL goal.

On March 21, 2013, Kovalev officially announced his retirement from the National Hockey League.[18] He hadn't played for the Panthers since a loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on February 22.[19]

Kovalev's retirement lasted less than three months. The National League B team EHC Visp announced on June 10, 2013 that they had signed the long-time NHL veteran to a one year contract with an option for a second year.[1] In his first season in the NLB he appeared in 44 regular season games notching 52 points(22 G, 30 A).

Awards and achievements[edit]

NHL[edit]

International[edit]

Accomplishments[edit]

  • First Russian player to be drafted in the first round.
  • First Russian player (along with Alexander Karpovtsev, Sergei Nemchinov, and Sergei Zubov) to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup.
  • First Russian player to be a captain of an All-Star Team
  • Captain of the 2009 NHL Eastern All-Star team
  • Most Valuable Player of the 2009 NHL All-Star game
  • November 23, 2010, recorded 1,000th (and 1,001st) career point(s) against the LA Kings notching a goal and an assist.
  • Most NHL games played by a player born and trained in the former USSR (1,302).

Off the ice[edit]

Kovalev is a licensed aircraft pilot. He is married to Eugenia Kovaleva.[20]

Endorsements[edit]

Kovalev is a prominent endorsee of Warrior Hockey, making use of their range of products as a trademark which includes his own signature stick, the AK27. Kovalev was also pictured on the cover of EA Sports' NHL 95 scoring a goal on Kirk McLean of the Vancouver Canucks in the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals. In March 2008, Kovalev released a two-disc DVD titled My Hockey Tips and Training Methods. He is donating 100 percent of the DVD sale profits to charities that promote cardiac care for children. At age 8, Kovalev himself was diagnosed with a heart disorder that prevented him from playing hockey for two years while he underwent treatment.

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1989–90 HC Dynamo Moscow USSR 1 0 0 0 0
1990–91 HC Dynamo Moscow USSR 18 1 2 3 4
1991–92 HC Dynamo Moscow CIS 33 16 9 25 20
1992–93 New York Rangers NHL 65 20 18 38 79
1992–93 Binghamton Rangers AHL 13 13 11 24 35 9 3 5 8 14
1993–94 New York Rangers NHL 76 23 33 56 154 23 9 12 21 18
1994–95 Lada Togliatti IHL 12 8 8 16 49
1994–95 New York Rangers NHL 48 13 15 28 30 10 4 7 11 10
1995–96 New York Rangers NHL 81 24 34 58 98 11 3 4 7 14
1996–97 New York Rangers NHL 45 13 22 35 42
1997–98 New York Rangers NHL 73 23 30 53 44
1998–99 New York Rangers NHL 14 3 4 7 12
1998–99 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 63 20 26 46 37 10 5 7 12 14
1999–00 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 82 26 40 66 94 11 1 5 6 10
2000–01 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 79 44 51 95 96 18 5 5 10 16
2001–02 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 67 32 44 76 80
2002–03 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 54 27 37 64 50
2002–03 New York Rangers NHL 24 10 3 13 20
2003–04 New York Rangers NHL 66 13 29 42 54
2003–04 Montreal Canadiens NHL 12 1 2 3 12 11 6 4 10 8
2004–05 Ak Bars Kazan RSL 35 10 12 22 80 4 0 0 0 8
2005–06 Montreal Canadiens NHL 69 23 42 65 76 6 4 3 7 4
2006–07 Montreal Canadiens NHL 73 18 29 47 78
2007–08 Montreal Canadiens NHL 82 35 49 84 70 12 5 6 11 8
2008–09 Montreal Canadiens NHL 78 26 39 65 74 4 2 1 3 2
2009–10 Ottawa Senators NHL 77 18 31 49 54
2010–11 Ottawa Senators NHL 54 14 13 27 28
2010–11 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 20 2 5 7 16 7 1 1 2 10
2011–12 Atlant Moscow Oblast KHL 22 1 5 6 16
2012–13 Florida Panthers NHL 14 2 3 5 6
2013-14 EHC Visp NLB 44 22 30 52 82 11 7 8 15 37
NLB totals 44 22 30 52 82 11 7 8 15 37
RSL totals 99 35 31 66 153 4 0 0 0 8
NHL totals 1316 430 599 1029 1304 123 45 55 100 114

International play[edit]

Alexei Kovalev
Medal record
Ice hockey
Competitor for  Russia
Winter Olympics
Bronze 2002 Salt Lake City
World Championships
Bronze 2005 Austria
Competitor for Unified Team
Winter Olympics
Gold 1992 Albertville
World Junior Championship
Competitor for  CIS
Gold 1992 Germany
European Junior Championship
Silver 1991
Silver 1990

Played for the Soviet Union in:

Played for the Unified Team (CIS) in:

Played for Russia in:

Year Team Event   GP G A Pts PIM
1990 USSR EJC 6 4 3 7 6
1991 USSR EJC 5 8 3 11 8
1992 CIS WJC 7 5 5 10 2
1992 CIS Oly 8 1 2 3 14
1992 Russia WC 6 0 1 1 0
1996 Russia WCH 5 2 1 3 8
1998 Russia WC 6 5 2 7 14
2002 Russia Oly 6 3 1 4 4
2004 Russia WCH 4 2 1 3 4
2005 Russia WC 9 3 4 7 16
2006 Russia Oly 8 4 2 6 4
2010 Russia Oly 0 - - - -
Senior int'l totals 52 20 14 34 64

Transactions[edit]

  • June 23, 1991- New York Rangers first-round draft choice (15th overall) in the NHL Entry Draft.
  • March 2, 2004- Traded by the New York Rangers to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Jozef Balej and Montreal's 2004 third-round draft choice.
  • July 6, 2009- Signed a two-year $9.95 million deal with the Ottawa Senators.
  • February 24, 2011- Traded by the Ottawa Senators to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Pittsburgh's conditional 7th round draft pick in the 2011 NHL Draft.
  • January 18, 2013 - Signed a one year, $1 million (+300K signing bonus) contract with the Florida Panthers.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Hockey-Olympiasieger Kowalew ins Wallis!". blick.ch. June 10, 2013. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Kalinsky, George (2004). Garden of Dreams. New York: Stewart, Tabori, & Chang. ISBN 1-58479-343-0. 
  3. ^ Montreal Canadiens Stats
  4. ^ "Kovalev, Thornton named All-Star team captains". TSN.ca. January 22, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-14. 
  5. ^ "Canadiens put away Blackhawks". CBC. 2009-03-31. Archived from the original on 4 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  6. ^ "Kovalev named NHL 1st star of the week". CBC. 2009-04-06. Archived from the original on 12 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  7. ^ "KOVALEV SIGNS TWO-YEAR DEAL WITH SENATORS". The Sports Network. 2009-07-06. Retrieved 2009-07-06. 
  8. ^ Scaringi, Joe, "From Russia with Love", 10 February 2010, accessed 21 June 2010.
  9. ^ "Senators 7, Flyers 4". Associated Press. 2010-01-04. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  10. ^ http://www.russianhockeyfans.com/team-russia/kovalev-frolov-zubov-and-kulemin-added-to-olympics-squad-116.html
  11. ^ http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=355204
  12. ^ http://prohockeytalk.nbcsports.com/2011/05/28/mike-comrie-and-alex-kovalev-wont-be-penguins-next-season/
  13. ^ http://bleacherreport.com/articles/786187-nhl-rumors-latest-buzz-on-trades-free-agents-more/entry/111647-nhl-free-agents-alex-kovalev-and-brent-sopel-going-to-khl-is-zherdev-next
  14. ^ NHL notes: Jackets listening to offers for No. 2 pick http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Hockey/NHL/2012/06/14/19879596.html
  15. ^ http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/09/3173647/alex-kovalev-marek-svatos-invited.html
  16. ^ http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2013-01-18/sports/fl-alex-kovalev-signs-panthers-0119-20130118_1_panthers-sign-marcel-goc-general-manager-dale-tallon
  17. ^ http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2013-01-15/sports/fl-florida-panthers-training-camp-0116-20130115_1_jonathan-huberdeau-erik-gudbranson-panthers-assistant-gm
  18. ^ KOVALEV RETIRES AFTER 19 YEARS IN THE NHL http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=418798
  19. ^ Report: Alex Kovalev retires http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=661513
  20. ^ http://senators.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=536527

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Michael Stewart
New York Rangers first round draft pick
1991
Succeeded by
Peter Ferraro