The Ottawa Senators introduced their biggest off-season acquisition at Scotiabank Place today and Alexei Kovalev wasted no time in weighing in on the Dany Heatley saga that has monopolized hockey talk in Ottawa so far this summer.
When asked about the disgruntled winger, Kovalev said he hopes to play with Heatley this year and that the team needs Heatley’s help.
Heatley asked to be traded in June, but has a no-trade clause in his contract that allows him to veto any deal the Senators may make. He exercised this clause to nix a June 30 trade that would have sent him to the Edmonton Oilers.
While refusing to discuss Heatley, Senators General Manager Bryan Murray hailed the addition of Kovalev.
“I think it’s a tremendous signing,” he said of the former Montreal Canadien.
Kovalev dismissed his reputation of inconsistent effort: “I don’t know where that comes from,” he said, “I always try and do my best.”
Murray said that Kovalev, widely regarded as one of the most skilled players in the league, is a constant scoring threat.
“He scared me to death every time he stepped on the ice against my team,” said Murray, who first coached in the NHL in 1981.
“Hopefully I will bring that spark, that little thing the team was missing,” said Kovalev. “One person can change a lot of things.”
The Russian winger broke into the NHL in 1992 with the New York Rangers, the team he won the Stanley Cup with in 1994. He is 59 points short of 1,000 in his career.
“I don’t really believe in age,” said Kovalev, 36. “I want to play until 50.”
Kovalev had 65 points last year, but had his second-best NHL season just two years ago, when he recorded 35 goals and 49 assists in 82 games.