Senators forward Alex Kovalev stretches with his teammates following a practice session Sunday afternoon at Scotiabank Place, his first in his new hockey home.
Say this much about Alex Kovalev. The man is a quick study.
Just two days into his first training camp with the Ottawa Senators, the flashy Russian forward seems to have a strong grasp of the thirst hockey fans in the nation's capital have for the game's holy grail.
"There’s nothing better than winning another Stanley Cup," said the 36-year-old native of Moscow, who was Ottawa's key free-agent signing of the off-season. "When you get on a team … when’s the last time this team won a Stanley Cup? (19)27? I remember how exciting it was winning a Stanley Cup in New York (in 1994) after 54 years.
"How exciting is that going to be (to win a Cup in Ottawa) after … I can’t even count how many years? I’m really looking forward to having good success on this team."
During a Sunday afternoon session session at Scotiabank Place, Kovalev wore a Senators practice jersey for the first time. Already, he's begun the process of bonding with new teammates after spending the past five seasons of his 16-year National Hockey League career with the Montreal Canadiens.
"I felt pretty good," he said in assessing his first day of practice. "Overall, it’s going to be important the next few days to get (the rust) off and get in game shape because the games are coming up pretty quick."
Kovalev doesn't believe that because he's with a new team, it means having to prove himself all over again. At least not on the heels of a career that to date, has produced 394 goals and 941 points in 1,151 regular-season games.
"I’ve been proving myself for 17 years," he said. "I have nothing else to prove. I’m just going to come out and do my best to help the team."
His new teammates surely agree with that sentiment. They can't wait to see what the offensively gifted Kovalev can bring to the mix.
"It’s going to be a lot of fun to be around him in practices and then playing with him," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. "We know what he can bring. He’s one of those few players in the league who can pretty much win you a game on his own some nights with his skill level.
"There’s nothing better than winning another Stanley Cup. When you get on a team … when’s the last time this team won a Stanley Cup? (19)27? I remember how exciting it was winning a Stanley Cup in New York (in 1994) after 54 years. How exciting is that going to be (to win a Cup in Ottawa) after ... I can’t even count how many years? I’m really looking forward to having good success on this team."- Alex Kovalev
"He’s one of my favourite players to watch – he’s probably in the top two or three in the league as far as skills. Our fans are going to have a lot of fun watching him and it’s going to be fun playing with him."
Added forward Nick Foligno: "I can’t wait to see him. He’s a great player and it’ll be exciting to see what he can bring to our team. I think he has that dynamic where he can be special on some nights – the majority of the nights – and I think he’s excited to be here, just talking to him. It’s going to be fun to see how he plays with everyone else." When Senators general manager Bryan Murray signed Kovalev back in July, he was certain his search for another top-six forward was over. Ottawa's forward depth grew even more on Saturday, when Murray obtained Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for Dany Heatley.
Count Kovalev among those intrigued by all the new possibilities up front.
"It’s always exciting," he said. "The more good players you have, the better. To go through the season and be a successful team and have a successful playoff, you have to have a complete team – at least two or three good lines – and I think that’s what we’re going to have.
"So far, it’s look like we’re going to have four good lines which are going to really compete. The guys are really anxious to start the games. We'll practise hard and I hope we are going to have a good team."