You Are What You Are: Taking a closer look at the Alexei Kovalev controversy

Posted by Richard Pollock in Columns,Editorials,Montreal Canadiens on February 20, 2009 — 2 Comments

“You are what you are.”-Bill Parcells

This quote is simple yet equally brilliant and, in this case, indeed applicable to the Alexei Kovalev situation that has been overblown by the media for some time now.

“You are what you are.”-Bill Parcells

Over the course of Alexei Kovalev’s career, the talented winger has eclipsed the 76 point mark only twice in an NHL season.  In 2000-01 Kovalev tallied 95 points for the high-flying Pittsburgh Penguins that were led by Jaromir Jagr.  As well, last season Kovalev registered 84 points in 82 games.  Sure, these numbers are quite impressive but over the course of Kovalev’s much-talked about career, the Russian winger has scored at a rate of .80 points-per-game.

“You are what you are.”-Bill Parcells

Alexei Kovalev, for all his world-class talent, stick-handling ability and tremendous wrist shot has averaged 66 points per 82 games over the course of his NHL career.  That may catch some people off guard because all you ever hear analysts say is how extremely talented Alexei Kovalev is.  Mario Lemieux has said it; Wayne Gretzky has said it; every single television personality has talked about it ad nauseam.  Due to the fact that everyone has seen Kovalev’s amazing moves either during games or at practice, he is seen as a disappointment; especially this season where his numbers have him sitting at 39 points in 57 games or .68 points-per-game.  Stated more clearly, Kovalev is on pace for a 56 point season for the Habs.  Is that good? Not especially; however, it is not really that far off Kovalev’s expected output.  Think about it, over his career he has average 66 points for every 82 games he’s played, and this season he is on pace for 10 less points than that.  Now, I know that is a drop in production but can that be termed a significant drop in production? Remember, this is the same Alexei Kovalev who registered 47 points in 73 games only two seasons ago.

“You are what you are.”-Bill Parcells

What Coach Parcells was trying to get across with this statement is that, for all the perception and talk of potential that runs rampant in this day and age, at the end of the day you are what your record says you are.  You can say “coulda” or “shoulda” but in reality you are what you are.  In this case, Alexei Kovalev is a talented player who registers an average of 66 points-per-season.  We know he can stick handle in a phone booth but that doesn’t always translate to points on the ice.  Did anyone ever see Sergei Berezin handle the puck during a warm up at a Leafs game?  Was he talented? Sure was.  In fact, he looked like he could go through an entire team with his eyes closed, but alas, that is why they play the games. 

“You are what you are.”-Bill Parcells

This season Alexei Kovalev is 35 years old, yet for some odd reason, fans and media alike are expecting some kind of consistent play and a possible breakout performance.  My question is simply: Why?  What evidence do you have over the past 15 years that Kovalev will suddenly change?  Moreover, why are your expectations the same for Kovalev at 35 years old as they were at 25 years old?

 “You are what you are.”-Bill Parcells