Kovy, as he was known, scored 120 goals for the team, including 17 playoff markers. Kovalev quickly became a fan favourite in Montreal after the team acquired him from the New York Rangers on March 2, 2004 for the low price of Josef Balej and a third-round draft choice that didn’t pan out. Fans nicknamed Kovalev "The Artist" for his impressive stickhandling abilities and cheered his every move, particularly during his biggest season in a Canadiens’ uniform, which came in 2007-2008 when he netted 35 goals and 84 points in 82 games, plus 11 points in 12 playoff games. Kovalev, who overcame a heart condition as a child, gave generously to children’s charities and boasted an ability to pilot planes, helicopters, scuba dive and play saxophone.rn It can be a curse being a Montreal Canadiens fan. It’s tough when a team has a championship pedigree but can’t put it all together in the present to get back into the winner’s circle. Think of the New York Yankees of the 1980’s or even the Detroit Red Wings until things started to pay off for them in the later ‘90’s. I can’t even imagine what Maple Leaf fans are going through. It’s a hard line when only winning the big prize will cut it. And for the Montreal Canadiens it hasn’t happened since 1993 when this storied franchise last drank from the sacred chalice that is the Stanley Cup. And what Canadiens fan didn’t dream of seeing Alex Kovalev, with hair flowing, a big smile on his face, hoist that cup over his head! Kovalev’s immense talent and flashes of brilliance made Habs nation dream the dream. Too bad there were a few nightmares thrown in. Kovalev channeled the Habs’ ghosts of the past. He generated the same kind of thrills and chills that Guy Lafleur created for Habs fans when he was at the top of his game in the late seventies. Le démon blond – as he was known – was one of the best players of his generation and was a gifted goal scorer who seemed to come up big when it mattered. He literally picked fans out of their seats with his moves and playmaking abilities. Alex Kovalev had this ability. The man had a flair for the dramatic. My favourite Kovalev moment – in a Canadiens uniform – was against the Boston Bruins in the 2008 Stanley Cup playoffs. Helmet knocked off, Kovalev with dirty blond hair flowing, heroically carries the puck into the Boston zone, then somehow getting the puck in the slot where he found the back of the net with a quick backhand. I’m getting goose bumps just thinking about it.rnAnd maybe, just maybe, part of the Montreal Canadiens’ franchise Hall of Fame one day. True, Kovalev was apt to take nights off. But when he came to play, he was a difference maker. When he was on it was something special to see. He could move through players like the puck was on a string. He could roof that puck over a goalie’s shoulder with even the slightest of angles to work with. He was money in the shootout when he went backhand top shelf. No goalie anywhere could save that shot. He could skate effortlessly, magically gliding, shifting, turning as if he was the conductor of his own symphony, the writer of his own narrative, the pilot of his own jet airplane. Flying oh so high, yet oh so alone. Kovalev the player was ultimately like a magical elixir that presented NHL GMs with the answers to all of life’s problems but the tradeoff was an entirely new set of headaches. Time and time again he was deemed worth the risk. What NHL GM hasn’t pondered the question whether they could be the one who could somehow get through to him and push all the right buttons to get the best of Alex Kovalev on a regular basis? Is he worth it? The lows may be low, but the highs! Oh they’re so high!!rn
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