When we last saw Alexei Kovalev, he was playing for a second-tier Swiss team called EHC Visp and had 70 points in 59 games in leading them to the National League B championship.
And then he retired at age 41, after 24 years of personifying the “enigmatic Russian” stereotype while scoring 430 goals in 1,316 NHL games. “I’d have loved to play until I’m 50 but the injuries from the last few seasons don’t let me continue my career,” he said.
Well, he’s feeling better. He plays 3-on-3 hockey once a week, and trains and plays tennis three times a week.
“I'm not the guy who likes to sit around and drink beer. It is fattening!” he told Journal de Montreal.
Another thing he told the paper: He’d play again in the NHL at age 42 if someone offered him a contract. Because why not!
From the Journal (via Google Translate):
Do you think you could have been playing a few more seasons in the National League?
"Yes, easily. That's why I keep myself in shape. Perhaps I will receive an invitation to next season. "
You still believe that?
“Of course. Why not? By cons, attitudes have changed much in the league. Everything is about the young players. Provided they get stronger and they are spinning rapidly, that's all that matters. There is no longer much room for creativity."
In the event that we do not offer you employment as a player, would you be interested in a coaching position?
"It's really not my priority. If I find an interesting job in another field, I will not return to hockey. The important thing is to be able to spend time with my children. "
Do you watch the series now in the National League?
“Not really. In fact, I never liked watching parties. Even when I was playing and I was hurt, I preferred to watch movies in the locker room! I always said I was playing hockey, not that I was looking. "
Maybe it was the injuries, but his last NHL stint was an underwhelming 14 games with the Florida Panthers in 2012-13 in which he notched two goals and three assists and looked like he was skating three steps slower than everyone else.
So maybe it’s less ageist than realist.
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