Former Ottawa Senators right wing Alexei Kovalev has bolted the NHL and decided to ply his wares in Russia’s KHL. During an interview with journalists in his native Russia, Kovalev had some choice words for hockey writers who’ve covered his career. The highlights: Kovalev said many Ottawa hockey writers make up stuff because they’re underpaid. Oh, and they pack their suitcases with beer.
Q. You have a reputation that Kovalev may be excellent in one game, and the next game you cannot see him.
KOVALEV: “One journalist wrote it when I was still playing in New York, and then it all started. There are such reporters, who don’t watch hockey, don’t understand it – but they will still say that Kovalev doesn’t give his all. That he plays whenever he wants. They are short on their own opinion.”
Obviously this meaning of “short on their own opinion” is lost in translation. At any rate, we feel safe in saying it’s not a compliment.
What do you remember from your years in the NHL?
“A lot has happened – there were falls and rises… Sometimes you sit down and play back your career in your head. In principle, I am happy.
“And the fact I am criticized… There are different journalists. 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.
Busted with beer at the security screening? That’s kind of awesome.
“Let them make up nonsense about me. But I am happy with what I have done. 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.”
I can see that you are fed up with Canadian media.
“I am annoyed when people write [nonsense]. Figuratively speaking, to earn half a hundred dollars they are ready to make up some garbage. But they show that they’re doing their job.”
Half a hundred bucks? Are they hiring?
I understand that you don’t read any sports media…
“Only sometimes. If you’re interested in an athlete. Or you know the journalist who wrote something and who you trust. And it 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.”
Kovalev, 38, won a Stanley Cup with the Rangers in 1994 and was the MVP of the 2009 NHL All-Star Game. He was the first Russian player drafted in the first round of the NFL draft (1994).