|Senators forward Alex Kovalev is a man of many interests, several of which take him far beyond the realm of hockey (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
Hockey fans know him for his flashy moves on the ice.
But there’s a lot more to Alex Kovalev than slick stickhandling and highlight-reel goals. The Ottawa Senators forward is truly a man of the world, a licenced pilot with his own plane and a wide array of interests inside and outside of the puck game.
Prior to the start of his first season in a Senators jersey, Kovalev took a few minutes to talk about hockey, some of his favourite things and a whole lot more.
Q: Who was your hockey idol growing up?
A: (Valeri) Kharlamov. What I liked about him is he had a little bit of everything. He was a good skater, he had speed and he had quickness with the puck and without the puck. He had all aspects of the game. Q: If you weren’t a hockey player, what other sport would you like to play for a living?
A: It could be swimming. It could be tennis. Probably one of those two.Q: What is your favourite NHL city to visit?
A: I like any city that has some history to it, like in Old Montreal. Here in Ottawa, they’ve got some old buildings that are nice to see. It’s pretty neat just to see the history in the city. Q: What is your favourite thing to do when you go home to Russia?
A: I don’t really spend that much time in Russia. I usually just go for one month because I do kids camps (in Kazan) and come back here. Q: What do you miss most about Russia when you’re not there?
A: Like anybody else, it’s your friends and your family. You can’t bring all of them here and you wish to be around them and have fun. I think that’s the biggest thing. When you go to Russia, you spend every little bit of your time with your friends.Q: What athlete who plays another sport do you admire most?
A: I like Tiger Woods. Not just for who he is, but for how he approaches the game. He still studies the game and he’s still getting better. (Roger) Federer is another guy who really works hard. A lot of athletes, like Mario Lemieux, when I used to play with him … the way they approach the game, the way they not just stay with what they’ve got over their careers. They want to move on forward and they want to achieve other goals.Q: What do you find most enjoyable about flying a plane?
A: Just feeling the freedom and feeling the comfort. These days, after 9/11, it gets harder to get through airports. When you have a family, it’s a lot easier when you live 10 minutes from the airport. From my home in Greenwich, Conn., it takes me between leaving the house and taking off, maybe half an hour.Q: What annoys you the most when somebody else is the pilot?
A: For me, when you are a pilot yourself ... you don’t feel comfortable because you’re not controlling the plane. You’re sitting there and you’re looking through a little window and you don’t know what’s really going on. By the action of the plane, you kind of know what’s going on and what’s happening. With other teams I’ve played on, whenever there’s turbulence, other guys will always turn around and look to me and say ‘is it okay?’ I kind of know in certain situations what’s happening.
Q: What type of music do you enjoy?
A: Not hip-hop or heavy metal. I like everything from the ’70s and ’80s. Older music.Q: Ever played a musical instrument?
A: I play the saxophone a little bit but I haven’t played for four or five years. But I’m thinking eventually I want to take it up again.
"I like Tiger Woods. Not just for who he is, but for how he approaches the game. He still studies the game and he’s still getting better. (Roger) Federer is another guy who really works hard. A lot of athletes, like Mario Lemieux, when I used to play with him … the way they approach the game, the way they not just stay with what they’ve got over their careers. They want to move on forward and they want to achieve other goals." - Alex KovalevQ: What intrigues you about space travel?
A: I’ve had a chance to fly 14 different models of planes. I’m also a helicopter pilot; I’ve flown four different kinds of helicopters. I think the next stage would be to try a military plane. It would also be nice to experience being in space. Just another experience, I guess.Q: What makes you want to drive a Formula 1 race car?
A: I like the speed. Every sport you look at, you want to experience what other athletes experience. People say golf is such an easy game – they just walk around and hit the balls. But when you’re walking seven miles and hitting the balls for four days, it’s very tiring. It’s affects your concentration. With Formula One, there’s so much stress. They drive 50 or more laps. It’s just the chance to experience what other athletes experience.
Q: What types of movies do you like to watch?
A: Most of the movies I like have lots of action, like thrillers, sci-fi or horror movies. Anything that has action going on for two hours, so you’re not just waiting until the last five minutes for something to happen. Q: Any favourites?
A: Older movies like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
, Animal House
… the first and second parts were really good. Q: What is the biggest thing you’d like to achieve before your career is over?
A: Win another Cup. It’s been awhile (since 1994 with the New York Rangers). I hope I can play as many more years as I can, but it would be nice to win another Stanley Cup.