Former 1980’s Russian player, Vyacheslav Bykov, who now coaches Team Russia, told Alex Kovalev through a text message that there’s no room for him on the team which is now in Canada for the 2008 World Hockey Championship.
No room for one of the best forwards in the NHL. Too slow, said the text message. Those Russians have been a barrel of laughs since 1972.
With the Russians, it’s always something else than what the official party line says. They’re masters at being cagey. The years they dominated NHL teams, particularly in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, they politely said they were here to learn from the pros, which was almost laughable. They have a history of manipulating on-and-off ice officials. In 1972, they made sure Canadian food went missing when Team Canada was holed up at their Moscow hotel. They awoke Canadian players in the middle of the night with telephone calls. And they’ve held a gun to Hockey Canada’s head for more money on more than one occasion throughout the years.
There’s always a questionable agenda, and some unsavoury activity, when it comes to the Russian hockey family.
Why wouldn’t Alex Kovalev, one of the smartest, shiftiest, magical talents in hockey not be invited to play for his home country? This guy should not only be on the Russian squad, but should be captain.
He’s not slow. Or if he’s slower than the chosen players on Team Russia, then they must be lightening-fast. It must be three lines of Alex Ovechkin’s, and Valeri Kharlamov risen from the dead. It must be the KLM line reincarnated.
Kovalev has probably upset the Russian Ice Hockey Federation somewhere down the line. Maybe he’s spoken too much about how great it is in North America, because by all accounts, he loves it here. Heck, he doesn’t even want to be called Alexei anywhere, but simply Alex.
It’s possible he’s critized the Russian way of doing things from time to time. Kovalev has never been one to keep things bottled up. And the Russian hierarchy certainly has long memories. Kovalev has probably never towed the line. He would’ve made a great hippie in the 1960’s.
If Alex Kovalev can’t make this team, then Teams Canada, USA, Finland, Sweden, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic don’t stand a chance. These teams will be too slow. Like Kovalev.
I don’t particularly want Kovalev playing in the World’s anyway. He’s 35 years old and needs to rest his weary bones after the long and stressful season of being a leader and star with his Montreal Canadiens. I want him fit, healthy, and renewed for next season when the Habs take a more serious stab at the Holy Grail.
It’s bad enough that Andrei Markov will be joining the Russian squad. He hasn’t been 100% healthy lately, which showed drastically in the playoffs, and this tournament better not set him back. He needs to be firing on all cylinders, along with Kovalev, when October rolls around.