Ilya Kovalchuk makes it look good Marc Bergevin

Ilya Kovalchuk fait bien paraître Marc Bergevin

In five games, Ilya Kovalchuk has scored one goal and three helpers. It has done well to both sides of Phillip Danault and Tomas Tatar in the company of Max Domi, and Nick Suzuki.

January 14, 2020 22h02


Ilya Kovalchuk makes it look good Marc Bergevin

Alexis Belanger-Champagne

The Canadian Press


The young players of the Canadian to still have the sparkling eyes when they talk about their team-mate Ilya Kovalchuk, ten days after the hiring of the maverick Russian.

Max Domi admitted earlier this week to be in awe of one of the best scorers of the last generation of hockey players. Phillip Danault has qualified Kovalchuk of the “legend” of the recent history of the hockey. For his part, Kovalchuk seemed surprised of these comments when they were reported Tuesday.

“I don’t know what to say. I’m doing my small business, he replied. These guys give me so much energy. It is really a good group of people. I received a very warm welcome. I simply try to continue to be myself.”

The general manager Marc Bergevin had said to hope that Kovalchuk was going to make its place in the Canadian, which had not been the case with the Los Angeles Kings. The sample is still thin, but Kovalchuk is far from evil appeared during its first five outings with the Habs.

Kovalchuk has scored one goal and three helpers up here. It has done well to both sides of Phillip Danault and Tomas Tatar in the company of Domi and Nick Suzuki.

“We play a style of hockey-fast and it may be a little different than the style of the Kings, noted the veteran Nate Thompson, who played with Kovalchuk in Kings before being acquired by the Canadian last winter. Sometimes, all it takes is a change of air.

“He is one of us in the locker room and the guys enjoy his company. [Monday] when [Ryan] Poehling scored, he may be the guy most happy on the bench. It is like this.”

Only 15 players who have played in the NHL this season were born in 1983 or before. Of the group, there are only five attackers, or Kovalchuk, Jason Spezza, and Mikko Koivu, who are all aged 36 years, as well as Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, who are over the age of 40 years.

The importance of veterans

While we hear more and more that the NHL is a league of young, the presence of veterans to mentor them remains important.

“Young people must learn as we did before them, has noted Kovalchuk, who has indicated that they have learned a lot from Scott Mellanby at the Thrashers of Atlanta. You can see their leadership qualities, their self-confidence. It you value, gives you confidence and you learn how you behave on the ice and off the ice.”

“There is no team that has success only with young people,” said head coach Claude Julien. In our case, we want to make progress with our young people, but it is always going to take veterans. You can not go only in one direction. It is necessary to find a balance between the two.”

Kovalchuk admitted to having played with a new energy to his first outings with the Canadian, but that his age had, perhaps, eventually catch up to its third meeting in four nights, last Thursday in the face of the Edmonton Oilers.

“I felt better in the last two games, he added. It is good to have won, it is more fun. Everyone has fun here in practice, to work hard.”

Kovalchuk should serve as a lifesaver in the absence of Jonathan Drouin, Joel Armia, Brendan Gallagher and Paul Byron, all wounded. It will be interesting to see how his role will evolve when they come back to the game and what impact it will have in the success of the team.

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