февраля 2001 года.
10 question to Alexei Kovalev // sportillustrated.com
When you think of Russian hockey players, the first names that come
to mind are Detroit's Sergei Fedorov and Florida's Pavel Bure. But the
Penguins' Alexei Kovalev has a certain distinction those two can't
boast. He was the first Soviet player taken in the first round in the NHL
Entry Draft. His Russian accent is still strong like a bear, and so are
his 2000-01 stats. Kovalev is on pace to record career highs in goals,
assists and points, and he notched his first All-Star appearance this season.
1. What is life like in Togliatti, Russia?
It's not really a big city, fairly small. It's a city that makes a
lot of cars, like Detroit, but it is nowhere near the size of Detroit.
And there are a lot of factories. But, it's just a small quiet town where
there's not much to do, unlike Moscow.
2. What's the difference between Moscow and New York City?
There are a lot of tall buildings in New York City and they are all
right next to each other. In Moscow, the buildings are more spaced out
and not nearly as tall.
3. New York City has a tendency to shock people because it's another
I came to New York before I was drafted by the Rangers [15th overall
pick in 1991] when I was on the junior national team. But it was neat for
me to see at the tall buildings and the Statue of Liberty. And it looked
cool from far away, much like what you see on TV. When I would watch an
American movie, I did not believe that was a real city. I thought it was
a joke. But then I realized that the city was exactly like the movie and
I was amazed.
4. Do you see yourself as a pioneer or role model to younger Russian
players since you were the first one taken in the first round of the NHL
I never really think about that. I'm just very happy to be playing
for the NHL. Yet, I know I have to go out there and prove them I was worth
that pick. I just have to show them my game and what kind of player I can
be. When I got traded to Pittsburgh, I got more playing time and more chances
to become a complete player.
5. Describe how important this first All-Star appearance is for you.
Making any appearance, All-Star or national team, it gives you a lot
of confidence. In the All-StarGame , you play against all the top players
in the world. I'm very proud of the honor. In junior nationals, you're
grouped with all the best players from different cities in Russia. But
this is completely different. These are the best in the world. I'm glad
I finally made it to an All-Star Game. I hope I can do many more times.
6. Do you like the All-Star format -- North America versus the World?
I do. Canada has a lot of great players, and the United States, too.
Match them up against the best Europeans in hockey and it always makes
for a fun game.
7. Describe your feelings on winning the Stanley Cup and erasing the
It was pretty emotional. That's the one goal every NHL player strives
for. New York had not won in 54 years and when we did, the city went crazy.
All the fans were very excited and the parade that next day was incredible.
Going to Broadway and celebrating was amazing.
8. You were one of the few players, who has played with Wayne Gretzky,
Mario Lemieux and Mark Messier . Who's the best player?
They're all great players, so it's hard to say which one is best. They
play all different styles. Gretzky was very fast and got many goals that
way. Messier was a great passer and a real good shooter. Mario has great
hands and can alter his game to different levels. When they all play together,
it's very hard and a complicated thing. You can't predict what they are
going to do. If you could take something out of each one of the players
-- Mario's patience and how well he works the puck, Messier's passing ability
and leadership, and Gretzky's speed and ability to score -- you would have
the ultimate player. But they way they all see the game is what is best
about all those players.
9. Is it odd to see your boss on the ice with you, practicing and playing
alongside the team?
Once he puts on that uniform, no one looks at him as the owner. They
see him as one of our teammates. He's still a young guy, so it's very difficult
to view him as the owner. It's important for us to view him as a player
and not as the owner. That way, there is no extra pressure on us when we
make a mistake. Nothing has changed on this team since he got here, except
that we got better.
10. Is he a stickler when you ask him for a raise?
(Laughs) I don't know. I haven't asked him for one yet.