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Kovalev blasts former coach Clouston and Ottawa writers

TSN.ca Staff

8/8/2011 3:45:48 PM

Alex Kovalev's last two seasons in the National Hockey League were less than memorable for the veteran forward, who sought new employment in the Kontinental Hockey League last week.

The enigmatic winger told a Russian newspaper over the weekend that he had issues with now-former bench boss Cory Clouston's coaching during his two seasons with the Ottawa Senators.

"In two seasons I still couldn't understand the ideas of our coach Cory Clouston," Kovalev told Sovetsky Sport in an article translated by Dmitry Chesnokov of Yahoo! Sports.

"It seemed that he scoffed at some players. You have to treat players kindly. If you leave someone on the bench, you should explain why it happened. This is coach's job. But when a player is benched and doesn't understand what is happening, he becomes lost."

Kovalev also criticized sportswriters in the nation's capital, saying they knew little about the game. "Ottawa journalists don't watch hockey at all," he explained to the paper. "When they fly with the team and go through the (metal detector) at an airport, their bags are filled with beer. You realize right away what these people do when they write about the NHL.

"Let them make up nonsense about me. But I am happy with what I have done. I have played not for myself but for the team and fans. Teammates have never said a bad word about me. Fans are happy. I am approached on the street in Montreal and New York and told one thing: 'Don't take the bad to your head. We always support and love you. You're the best.'"

Kovalev had 16 goals and 18 assists in 54 games with the Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins this past season.

The Senators dealt Kovalev to the Penguins at the trade deadline for a conditional seventh-round pick.

Earlier in the season, Kovalev went public with his general unhappiness in Ottawa and openly complained about his role under Clouston, who demoted him to the fourth line for a period of time.

He became an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and turned down a couple of offers to sign a two-year deal with Atlant Mytishchi of the KHL.

"Two teams in the NHL offered me to join them. But I chose Russia," said Kovalev. "I didn't want to spend my summers sitting on travel bags. I realized that I will not get a contract longer than one year in North America. Atlant gave me a two-year contract."