A few days earlier the team from Beijing has a new coach. They became legendary Alexei Kovalev, one of the best Russians to ever play in the National hockey League. But if the reputation of Kovalev as a player don’t cause problems in the coaching profession Alex as a rookie: he has only two years of work at the headquarters of the previous mentor “Kunlun” American Kurt Fraser.
the new season of “Kunlun mountains” will play their home games in Mytischi. Probably a big relief in the sense that you have less to fly?
Alexei Kovalev: the Move to Mytishchi is a huge plus. As far as I know, Vladivostok next season will not participate, don’t know how I solved the issue with Khabarovsk. But if no Khabarovsk, far away field trips will only Kazakhstan and Siberia. When you’re five times during the season, flying from Beijing to Moscow and back is hard. Without such long-distance flights might be to give players a slightly greater load. However, the hard part’s not even the flights as such, but the change of time zones. This puts pressure on the body. Personally, I have always loved to travel, and at first when you come to a new job, immersed in it, this whole routine you do not notice. But I felt last season. Especially on the route Beijing-Moscow: we did stop for refueling in Siberia, and it took 11-12 hours. I even thought to myself, how much time we spent on the plane and how much flying per season.
Alexei Kovalev: Total time in the plane – 218 hours and 35 minutes. Distance in miles 86232, in kilometers – 138789. To understand, to go around the earth, you need to fly 24 thousand miles.
what is the specificity of work in the Chinese hockey club?
Alexei Kovalev: a Feature that little Russian in the team and some foreigners. This command is compiled and prepared with an eye on the Olympic games-2022, respectively, the owners of the club would like to see more players with Chinese roots. At the time we held camp in Toronto, which looked all hokkeistov of Chinese origin living in Canada and the United States. From them we gained players. If in the first year these players had only two or three people, then when I became their five people, and last year their number rose to 18. The difficulty was that came out players had to play in their colleges and are accustomed to a completely different game in every sense. And the more they become difficult. Needed time to show how to use free space as play in the KHL. If the NHL is now all about the struggle, the KHL is still visible the more traffic, the transmission.
China never ��e was a prominent place on the hockey map. Is it possible, in principle, to change?
Alexei Kovalev: Quickly everything happens, although we always hope for the opposite. When I say that this or that process will take time, the subconscious doesn’t want to believe it. But hockey was in China since 1950. Just the interest in the game at some point fell. Now, when the Olympics on the nose, hockey returns slowly lost ground. Of course, there are players with Chinese roots, having the experience of playing overseas, but still a lot.
As a growing interest in hockey in the country to compare with the half-empty bleachers at home games?
Alexei Kovalev: Everything comes with time. If you do the right advertising, the right to show people this sport, then I am sure interest would be much greater. The only thing that hockey is not as democratic a sport as gymnastics or badminton where you don’t need special ammunition. But then again, all this can be financed, to bring the matter to a large company. In any case, there is progress. If in the first season, fans were happy any goals, do not understand where their team is, now the audience has become more sophisticated. In addition, the hockey began to engage the children met with a number of our coaches who came to work in China. Again, most importantly, correctly and clearly to position itself.
you said that You would not mind to join the coaching staff of team China at the Olympics-2022 in Beijing. For this to happen?
Alexei Kovalev: That would solve the country’s government and the owner of “Kunlun”, which is also Chinese. Actually, if I understand correctly, initially it was assumed that the club will play only players with Chinese passports. Then everything softened. Maybe the coaches will do the same. It is unknown as of now it is. If they want to team at the Olympics was led by the Chinese coach, or ready to take the foreigner, if only there was a result…
For these two years assistant no desire to return to the ice and show how it is necessary?
Alexei Kovalev: Arose repeatedly. I have these impulses were driven out of yourself during the training process, when left with the players after practice to play three on three. That was the idea, and seriously talked about this to a couple of games I’ve played for “Dinamo” and he finished his career at the club where he started. Would make a beautiful story.
In your practice it already is when you worked as sports Director at the club of the second Swiss battalion “Visp”?
Alexei Kovalev: Yes, there are rules you can not claim more than two foreign players, and the situation was such that the man was injured, and the new foreigner to acquire opportunities for financial prichina was not. Decided to save money, I offered my services. Turned out pretty good.
What trainer you see yourself? Rigid and authoritarian? Or democratic?
Alexei Kovalev: I’m not soft, but not hard. Fair. Even as a player, I liked when the coach treated players fairly. If the person performs work that is going to play. And Vice versa. At the same time, we must understand that the player has the right to be wrong. Two to three mistakes, no more. For me it is important that a person making a mistake, never repeated. This means that it understands.
There are methods by which you will never use? Sergei Zubov, for example, told how the head coach of the Rangers ‘ Mike Keenan once punched you in the kidneys. To cheer up…
Alexei Kovalev: Mike is a special man. You never know what to expect. Once the Stanley Cup he caused all Russian players and started to yell at us, saying that you do not care for the Cup you do not care. And we stand and stare at each other: we Ursinum and Tikhonov had to work under which the bench of this Mat-peremat was. Rigidity and perfectionism Keenan with them and some were not. So if he wanted to motivate us, then he is not very good.
You two cook in the KHL. How does it feel?
Alexei Kovalev: I grew up in this hockey. On the other hand, to work in the “Kunlun MTS” I haven’t been in Russia for seven years. Of course, much of the League has changed. Again, the attitude of the players. And all for the better. I hope that hockey will continue to evolve: will build new palaces, to appear interesting to the players.
Swiss Sven Andrighetto, who played for “Avangard”, said CHL a continuous butting and plowing. And a minimum of creativity…
Alexei Kovalev: It depends on the individual team. Such teams are interesting to watch, there are in the NHL. Except they crush and throw the puck in the zone nothing else. Conversely, there are creative teams that are technically equipped. Then from the coach, much depends on its installations. It’s everywhere. In the NHL, too, some trying to crush physics. So I Andrighetto do not agree.
what do you think about the rapid introduction of a hard salary cap in the NHL?
Alexei Kovalev: This should equalize the teams. The only thing I don’t know how this is actually implemented in Russia. We’ve always find a loophole. When the NHL introduced the salary cap, all teams are aligned so that in the course of the regular season was difficult to determine the future winner of the Stanley Cup. Previously, it was immediately clear: teams with good finances can sign good players and due to this win.
In Mytishchi, which is now going to play “Kunlun” was��and something was based “Atlas”, the latest Russian club for which you played. Not the best page in your biography…
Alexei Kovalev: and I have left special memories. I got injured and that was it. Meaning to feel for this reason some kind of anger or to keep bad memories?
that’s when the story happened with the name on the sweater, remember? (instead of the usual KHL Kovalev was asked to write Kovalyov – approx. RG)
Alexei Kovalev: Remember. Don’t know why the League that was so problematic. I’m with the national team played in world Championships and Olympics, and everywhere my name was written correctly. I could not grasp why now they decided to make their own way. Maybe she wanted to play with me?
After the “Atlanta” you have said that you don’t want to deal with Russian hockey have nothing in common?
Alexei Kovalev: Was a little embarrassing the way we went. But it’s their internal Affairs, which probably didn’t really relate to hockey. Perhaps the phrase was too loud and belonged more to the people who at that time worked in “Atlanta”.
You said that you’ve always been interested to try yourself in the headquarters of the Russian national team…
Alexei Kovalev: For us, the team was above all. We lived it. When I moved from Togliatti to Moscow, and took me to the first training camp of the national team, it was a shock. Always had a special feeling, playing with the best players from across the country. Always an honour to represent your homeland, no matter in what capacity, player or coach.
Young players who had a chance to play with you, always fondly spoke: Kovalev always prompt, good advice to give. Young people in General changed much compared to your generation?
Alexei Kovalev: nowadays the young do not have access to more information. Our generation studied that was able to see. Watched the game masters, something tried to imagine, something borrowed, tried to repeat. Now young people are waiting for what they all show, tell, chew. Here people say that we have creativity in hockey is not enough. So it is necessary to develop, understand where it comes from, how to find it. The youth yet won’t tell her what to do, it does nothing. Little boys who are constantly coming up, do something different. The feeling that operates the pipeline, and the output is not the same as a car “Lada”.
Vladimir yurzinov recalled that in the “Dynamo” took you 17-year-old for the matches of the super series with NHL clubs…
Alexei Kovalev: Yes, thank him for it. In Moscow, when he came to Montreal, I think even one period played. And in America, I’m on the ice did not come out even once. But YurZinov I still took, so I looked up what senior hockey, something borrowed. Remember, the “QC” then the main star was the legendary lefleur. And that’s when he got the puck, all the audience stood up and began to scream. He had to leave with the washer or leave the Playground, all again sat down into place and went about his business. All knew that if lefleur on the ice, something has to happen. And he was already 40 years old.
Winning the Stanley Cup with the Rangers – the top in your overseas career?
Alexei Kovalev: the Most important thing for me was that I managed to win the trophy at an early age. I wanted to take the Stanley Cup, as soon as possible. At the time I was 21. Most importantly, I was a direct participant in events.
21 you’ve already had the “gold” of the Olympics, the Stanley Cup. There wasn’t any danger that you relax?
Alexei Kovalev: Such the athlete may be. Victory, on the contrary, give a certain confidence. You have been there, you know what you need to do it again.
Recently, your three Messier and Gravesham recognized as the best in the Rangers over the past 30 years. And for you personally which partners were perfect?
Alexei Kovalev: it is Difficult to allocate someone one. But if we talk about triples in which I played, then I would pick the trio with Czech and Belarusian Placanica by Kostitsyn in “Montreal”, and the best combination we had in “Pittsburgh” with the Czechs of Martin Stracey and Robert lang. Within two years we were the most powerful trio in the NHL.
You happen to play the Rangers not only Messier, but also by Gretzky. And in “Pittsburgh” with Mario Lemieux. Not everyone gets so lucky…
Alexei Kovalev: It’s an interesting feeling when you get to play in one team with stars, a game where you are a child watched on TV with my dad. The Messier the powerful leadership qualities: he was always worried that the partners all was well. From Gretzky could take as he sees the platform as it creates combination. Lemieux is a unique person. His ideas, his cunning, his hands… If not a disease, which for several years kept Mario from hockey, he have a lot to show and prove.
You said, if you want to offend a star, compare it with someone. Compare what player would not be offensive to you?
Alexei Kovalev: I Have a unique talent. Anybody and close did not play like I do. I have always created my game, always thinking about how to be unique, difficult to read. Even how skillful the guy is Datsyuk, he is still its own game. We have something in common, but different all the same more.
You have admitted that the milestone of 1000 points in your life. What other individual eagle��I especially valuable to you?
Alexei Kovalev: How many journalists were said to be talented, but 30 goals and could not score, in “Pittsburgh” I’ve done this from year to year for six years. However, they are all the same to you, cheated my success to the accident, explained that their game with Jagr and Lemieux, even though we were in different units. And, despite all the provocations, I was able to show what I’m capable of.
would Call the three best Russians in the NHL at the moment?
Alexei Kovalev: please Call those that impressed me. In the first place would put Malkin. Then Tarasenko, who from “St. Louis” and the third – Kuznetsov from Washington.
what about Panarin from your home “Rangers”?
Alexei Kovalev: Panarin – technical. There’s something interesting in his game. But it’s not something that appeals to me personally.
Artemy nominated in the nominees for the “HART Trophy”, the prize for most valuable player of the regular season. Chance to win does he have?
Alexei Kovalev: I Think the odds are very large. He had a very strong season.
You always said your biggest success – “gold” at the Olympics of 1992 in Albertville. But you there was no flag and no anthem…
Alexei Kovalev: Is very unusual. But there is extra motivation to prove that we are all one, ready to fight for each other, that would not have happened in the country. We fight for her and love her. Suppose we did not have a flag, but we know who win. Listening to the Olympic anthem, we sang our Soviet.
What I remember from the Olympics in the first place?
Alexei Kovalev: Remember when we had two days break and we Kasparaitis went skiing. However, Darius is not very well traveled, and well I already did it. Climbed to the top, went down, and there is yurzinov, crossing her arms. You know, says absolutely stunned? At the Olympics skiing. Still remember that when I returned to Moscow three hours we were not given Luggage. The guys already on the tapes for the issuance of circles reeling from boredom steel. We still had to meet the orchestra had some of the real passengers appear from the door, they started to play, thinking that we have. In the end, they played a few times and left. And when we finally came out, it was empty. Everything went in a flash.
Fourth place at the 2006 Games in Turin, after in the quarterfinals knocked the Canadians, a major disappointment in your career?
Alexei Kovalev: If so refer to Turin, all the tournaments that have failed to win, was a disappointment. Rather, it was a lesson.
you Feel the disappointment from the fact that “gold” the world championship you did not submit?
Alexei Kovalev: of Course, the EUt resentment. In a year when the national team won the world championship in Quebec, I showed one of his best seasons in the NHL, and I didn’t get. It was annoying. Don’t know what happened. Zakharkin and Bykov invited me, saying, thank you for coming in to camp, but the team you got. Why, I did not explain. All the time saying that we have a lot of politics. Maybe it played a role. But in the mud and not want to climb. It’s a shame because I had to win the world Cup to get into the triple gold club (list of players who won the Olympics, world championship and Stanley Cup – approx. WG).
Then tried to clarify the media, what happened?
Alexei Kovalev: do Not like to discuss old topics. You can hear something unpleasant, and the source is not the fact that wants to stir up memories. Why go back to what is already on what does not influence?
Alexei Kovalev born on February 24, 1973 in Togliatti. He started his professional career in the Moscow “Dynamo”. In the NHL he played for the Rangers, which in 1994 won the Stanley Cup, “Pittsburgh”, “Montreal”, “Ottawa” and “Florida”. The third of the Russians, who scored 1,000 points in the regular championship of the League, first by number of matches played (1316). In the national team – the Olympic champion Albertville-1992.