Penguins Notebook: Kovalev wants second Stanley Cup title
Share with others:
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Alex Kovalev is a rare talent -- at least, he was earlier in his career -- and a unique individual.
How many guys, after all, fly to their first game with a new team in their own plane, the way Kovalev did after the Penguins acquired him Thursday from Ottawa?
But Kovalev has the same motivation as just about every other player in the NHL -- he wants to win a Stanley Cup -- even though his incentive is slightly different.
He won a Stanley Cup in 1994, his rookie season with the New York Rangers, but the experience wasn't quite complete, for reasons far beyond his control.
"When I won the Stanley Cup, I never had a chance to take it home because of the lockout, so I never really saw the Cup, except holding it on the ice," he said Friday.
"That's one of the reasons to get another Stanley Cup, so I can finally share it with my friends. Take it home, maybe, or whatever. Get another Cup before the end of my career. To start with a Cup and end with a Cup would be great."
That doesn't necessarily mean Kovalev, who kicked off his second stint with the Penguins when they faced Carolina Friday night, plans to leave the NHL after this season, regardless of what the team accomplishes in the playoffs.
"When I win the Cup, then I'll ... you know the way it works," he said: "When you win, you want more."
The Penguins gave Ottawa only a conditional seventh-round draft choice for Kovalev, but didn't hesitate to put him in a prominent role. He was ticketed for the right side of their No. 1 line, with Jordan Staal and James Neal, and the right point on their No. 1 power-play unit.
"I'll fill any role they want me to play," Kovalev said. "I've been on the power play, in the back, before, so ... we have good forwards up front. They do a good job in front of the net. I guess my goal will be, as always, to get the puck to the net, and let the forwards do the rest."
Coach Dan Bylsma suggested Kovalev will receive consideration for a permanent spot on the point.
"I would consider it on a longer-term basis," he said. "Obviously, right now, we have a need there. When [injured defenseman] Paul Martin returns, he'll be back there on the point as well, on the power play, but there's a possibility [Kovalev] could be there when everyone gets healthy."
Carolina center Eric Staal added a chapter to the legend of the Staal brothers when he dropped Marc, a defenseman with the New York Rangers, with a crushing hit earlier this week.
"He felt a little woozy," Eric Staal said, "as most of us would after a hit like that."
His little brother didn't take it personally, though. He has said repeatedly in the past few days that the hit was clean, even though he wasn't especially pleased to have been on the receiving end.
"Obviously, he wasn't the happiest guy," Eric said. "I wouldn't be either, if I got hit in that situation. But it's a hockey play. It happens. I'm sure that if I had my head down, coming up the boards, he would have finished on me."
While Marc apparently forgave him, others in the family might not be willing to do it so quickly.
"It's one of those things that he understands and I understand," Eric said. "Maybe mom doesn't understand as much, but that's the way it goes."
The Penguins weren't the only NHL team to reach into its past in search of some offensive help.
The Hurricanes sent forward Ryan Carter and a fifth-round draft choice to Florida for winger Cory Stillman, 37 and a member of Carolina's Stanley Cup-winning team in 2006.
Stillman had seven goals and 16 assists in 44 games with the Panthers. "It's been up-and-down [this season], that's for sure," he said. "Obviously, it's a new start here."
But in an old spot. Coach Paul Maurice plans to give Stillman the same linemates, Staal and Erik Cole, that he had his previous time in Carolina.
With Brooks Orpik (broken finger) and Martin (unspecified) unavailable, the Penguins recalled defenseman Brian Strait from their minor league team in Wilkes-Barre. Strait made his NHL debut in a 1-0 loss Monday against Washington. ... Former Penguins coach and scout Herb Brooks is being honored with the 2011 Legend of Hockey Award from the Hobey Baker Memorial Award Foundation. He died in an auto accident in 2003 at age 66.
First Published February 26, 2011 12:00 am