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Rambler's Top100

13 мая 2001 года.
Devils: Fulfillment within reach for Pens' Kovalev // Star-Ledger 


There was a time when it was impossible to see Alexei Kovalev's name standing alone in a scouting report or a newspaper column, or in the transcript of a TV commentator's observations, or in the tortured analyses of his coaches and general managers. He was forever bracketed by commas.  

"Kovalev, who has unlimited potential, ... "  

"Kovalev, who someday will be a 40-goal scorer in this league, ... "  

"Kovalev, who will really be something to see once he learns how to play the game, ... "  

See, it was never a matter of if Kovalev would perform miracles on ice skates, but when. The talent was always there. The gifts were always obvious. He would carry a puck across a blue line, make a move, make a head fake, perform magic tricks, and people would stare breathlessly and say, "Did he just do what I thought he just did?"  

Sometimes, he'd even be onside when he did them, too.  

"There were times when we'd be in practice and he'd do something and the whole thing would come to a standstill," says Sergei Nemchinov, who plays for the Devils now but was right there when Kovalev first arrived as a member of the Rangers. "He could take your breath away, and he made all those moves so easily. He was a marvel."  

Kovalev was the first Russian ever selected as a No. 1 draft choice, picked by the Rangers as something of an intriguing consolation prize when they couldn't work out a deal for the rights to Eric Lindros.  

And from the moment he slipped into a Rangers sweater as a 19-year-old in 1992, right to the day he was shipped to the Penguins on Nov. 25, 1998, he was shrouded -- or burdened -- by every expectation that his talent promised. In that time, the most goals he scored was 24, in 1995-96. He did have nine goals and 21 points during the Rangers' fabled run to the Stanley Cup in the spring of 1994.  

But that was a spasm of brilliance that often was overlooked in a sea of underachievement.  
"People wanted me to be everything," Kovalev says. "Well, it isn't easy to be everything."  

Specifically, people wanted Kovalev to be the player he has become this year, a glorious breakout season in which he finally eclipsed 40 goals (winding up with 44) and finally approached 100 points (finishing with 95). Because he plays on a team with a pair of Hart Trophy candidates, fellows named Jagr and Lemieux, he has become one of the most dangerous third options in all of hockey.  

Though, in truth, his talents stand on their own. At long last.  

Ask Larry Robinson if the possibility of the Penguins' possible pairing of Jagr and Lemieux posed any extra headaches in his preparation for these Eastern Conference finals.  

"Not really," the coach said before his Devils beat the Penguins, 3-1, last night in the opener of the Eastern Conference finals, holding Kovalev to two shots in the bargain. "I don't think there's that much of a difference between Kovalev and Jagr. I think they're both tremendous hockey players."  

Never has Kovalev's star shone brighter than in February, a month that began with him appearing in his first All-Star Game and later included three hat tricks. He was a shoo-in choice for Player of the Month.  

And he had become everything the Rangers ever hoped he would have been, from the moment in 1991 when former general manager Neil Smith traveled to Novogorsk, Russia, to meet Kovalev and found him and his Moscow Dynamo teammates learning English by listening to Beatles songs.  

"I'm a lot happier now," Kovalev, still only 28, says. "To be able to produce where I've been aiming for, to take another big step, and that step is to become the player I always wanted to be, a star player, to be named in the top players. That's one of the big things for me. The last couple of seasons have made me very happy because I'm getting older now and I can produce those results now, instead of becoming 31 or even older than that and wondering when it's going to happen." 

Страничка Алексея Ковалёва на сайте "Звёзды с Востока"

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3 августа. Ковалев останется в Монреале. 
22 июля. Алексей Ковалев: "Гуденау должен уйти" - Советский Спорт

12 июля. Алексей Ковалев: Гуденау понимает, что он виноват - Советский Спорт


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