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Alexei Kovalev: A Case Study

Okay, things are a bit different in this post. I started following the rebirth of the Canadiens last season, and really looked forward to this game. Many of you may think it's because of the Koivu v. Koivu captain storyline, or the potential Marian Gaborik trade to Montreal and checking out their young talent.

But you would be wrong. You see, the Montreal Canadiens have one of the best stories in hockey. Yeah, this is the 100th year of the franchise, and yes they have great young talent. But that's not the whole story. Canadien winger Alexei Kovalev is one of the great Russian talents. He came over after the Red (Army) Wings had the stockpile of Russians with Federov, Fetisov, Konstantinov, etc., so he wasn't really a trailblazer, but he was heralded as a great import prospect. Well, Kovalev was drafted in 1991 by the Rangers in the first round, the first Russian to be taken in the first round of the NHL entry draft. He got off to a hot start in New York, then really came into his own in the late 90s with Pittsburgh. However, in 2002-2003 he went back to the Rangers and floundered. He has had a renewal in Montreal in 2005-2006, with 23 goals and 42 assists in 69 games. Then in 2006-2007 he fell off badly, amassing only 47 points. People thought he was done, washed up, too old for a young man's game.

It all changed in 2007-2008, really flourishing in the wide open style the Canadiens like to play, he saw his numbers back to his younger days. With 35 goals and 49 assists in all 82 games, Kovalev was a man reborn, phoenix rising from the ashes of a dead career. Now, was it the system? Could it be that he got his head right? Hmm, his head...

When you mention it, it might have something to do with his head.


And then it was the playoffs, and he had new challenges.


So, my hat is off to you Alexei Kovalev. My helmet is too!