Kovy, Sopes both headed for the KHL


A pair of former Habs are off to Russia to continue their careers in the Kontinental Hockey League.

Former Canadiens’ star Alex Kovalev is headed east to play for Atlant Mytishchi in Moscow according to Sport-Express. The team website confirms the signing and has posted a page devoted to Kovy photos and video, calling him a “Russian hockey legend” and reminding its fans that his resume includes being an “Olympic gold medalist (1992) Stanley Cup (1994), world champion among youth team (1992) Russian Champion (1991, 1992).”

It’s a two year deal for L’artiste, and a team official told Sport-Express, “We have long fought for Kovalev and very glad that we could still come to terms with such a talented striker. We hope that Alex can reveal a wealth of potential in the Kontinental Hockey League, and thereby help Atlant fight for the top places in the next championships.”

Kovalev scored 103 goals for Montreal in four seasons and change, his 35 in 2007-08 being his high. He’s scored 428 NHL goals and added 596 assists for 1024 points in 1302 games. He’s also a career minus-30 in the regular season. He’s played 123 Stanley Cup games, in which he’s scored 45 goals and 55 assists for 100 points. He’s a plus-2 for his playoff career.

An exciting player whose hands, skating and shot were reputed to be among the very best of his generation…

… he long frustrated fans and organizations for what they viewed as not making the most of his immense talents, leading to disapointing seasons (not to mention extended conversatons and long walks in the harbour with former Habs GM Bob Gainey). But now, as a 37 year-old coming off seasons of 18 and 16 goals for the Senators and, briefly, the Penguins, he may not have much left.

Sopel announced on his Twitter account today that he had signed for “Two years in the KHL! So excited for this new opportunity!” He’ll be going to Metallurg Novokuznetsk, according to the link he tweeted to his wife’s blog. She doesn’t seem particulary thrilled with the news. Sopel was apparently also talking with the Blackhawks but that didn’t work out.

There is no news of this signing at the moment on the Metallurg website or in the Russian press apart from reporting what is being reported in North America.  Novokuznetsk is in southern Siberia about 2,000 miles or 3150 kilometers southeast of Moscow.

Sopel was a Stanley Cup champion with the Blackhawks in 2010 and came to the Habs from Atlanta with Nigel Dawes in February for Ben Maxwell and a fourth round pick as Montreal was thinned on the blueline due to injuries. He was a pending UFA who played a dozen regular season games for the Habs sandwiched around a broken hand. A good shotblocker and penalty killer, he had good results on the Canucks power play earlier in his career, but he hadn’t done much in that role in recent seasons. He didn’t score in the regular season for the Canadiens and was a minus-1. He appearing in all seven games for the Bruins, scoring a goal and was minus-2.

Here’s his goal in Game 4, which gave the Habs a 1-0 lead they built on but could not hold, losing 5-4 in overtime.

There didn’t seem to be much interest from either he or the Habs to sign in Montreal for the upcoming season.

Sopel, 34, played 10 full seasons and parts of two more in the NHL, 659 regular season games and 71 more in the postseason.


  1. daytona hab says:

    I saw almost all of Kovy’s games as a Hab. He was missed when he went to Ottawa. I’ll never forget all those acccurate wrist shot goals from over there on the side on the power play. Our power play never replaced him. I never thought he was that lazy. Carbonneau made too much of that. As a back checker maybe he was lax but what great player backchecks these days? Not Ovechkin. Who is paying Kovy’s 20,000,000 salary balance? Pittsburgh? The Russians or is it a bit of the Huet deal? Huet had to play regularly to be great. He didn’t in Montreal and he didn’t in Chicago, but I realize it was his mistake to leave Washington where he would have been a permanent great starter. I bet he’s back in the NHL in 2012/2013.

  2. Thomas Le Fan says:

    I’d be the last to say he wasn’t supremely gifted but it’s difficult to play hockey with your head firmly planted up your butt. As far as all of us missing him, you’ll have to speak for yourself on this one. I, for one, was glad to see him go and his performance in Ottawa and Pittsburgh did nothing to convince me otherwise.

  3. Les-Habitants says:

    As much as every Habs fan will debate about Kovy, we all will miss him. He loved playing for the Habs, and we loved watching him. While we all wish he could have put together a more consistent performance, man was he fun to watch. His battle with Chara where he got his helmet knocked off but managed to put it back on in one shift still resonates with me. Best of luck in the KHL Kovy!

  4. One Last picture before we go on our trip.

    Mr Canada

    The 2011 Summit

    Shane Oliver
    Brandon, MB,Canada
    R7B 2R7
    Ph- 204 724 8418

  5. gohabs9240 says:

    I will always remember AK27

  6. Ian Cobb says:

    See you in Mtl. Nov.19th

  7. Ian Cobb says:

    Kovy milked a lot of dollars at half speed late in his career from poor managers.
    Now he can milk on his reputation from the KHL

  8. Everlasting1 says:

    Your screen name looks like a suspicious corrupt file I once deleted from my pc. My hunch was right.

    “God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Psalms 82:1-2

    “We don’t see things as they are, but as we are.” – Anais Nin

  9. Tony McLean says:

    12 games, to me that doesn’t make him an ex-Hab, more like a ship passing in the night ;-). I would rather have seen more of Mara.

    If Canadiens management and OWNERSHIP had any brains they would have added 3-4 SOB’s. Instead they plant pansies and wait for them to bloom.

  10. Everlasting1 says:

    Yes, snobby americans..some countries may use/have different terminologies in hockey. The hockey world doesn’t revolve around the West. Another russian translation for goalie is ‘guardinski’. Don’t laugh..our translations are equally as funny to them.

    “God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Psalms 82:1-2

    “We don’t see things as they are, but as we are.” – Anais Nin

  11. rwolowid says:

    Maybe he can take Sergei Samsonov with him.I will not miss Kovy`s lazy penalties,His seeming indifference.arrogance etc.etc


  12. Neutral says:

    two good guy’s guess they’re services are not required in the NHL.

  13. Stu Hackel says:

    72 – The quote by the GM is translated through Google and that’s what they came up with. I can’t read Russian. Perhaps “striker” translates differently to Russian hockey people.

    As for Sopel, I don’t think she’s going with him. They have children in school and I think that would pose some problems for them. She didn’t move up to Montreal this year as they stayed in Atlanta to finish the term.

    • B37zc says:

      OMG, Google translated last name 🙂

      GM’s name is Andrey Veryovko.
      “Striker” has to be “forward” 🙂

      • jo_maka says:

        Actually, it’s more ”sniper” than forward.

        The sport semantics revolve around the same words in a particular cultural zone (for lack of better words), regardless of the sports. Like when they say hattrick in a soccer game in North America while it’s not a regular concept in Europe. In soccer, ”striker” is a sniper. The guy who put the last touch to score goals. The trigger-happy maniac. The-you get the picture.

        удачи, художник !
        Open-mindedness is not a skull fracture

      • Stu Hackel says:

        B37 – Jeez, I thought that was a strange name for a Russian hockey exec. I can’t find his real name anywhere on the web, but if you can give me a link to it, I’ll change it. Right now, I’ve made him “a team official.” Thanks very much.

  14. HabFanSince72 says:

    Re Kovy: “We have long fought for Kovalev and very glad that we could still come to terms with such a talented striker.” Hmm … is this a soccer or a hockey team?

    Re: Sopel. Is his wife going with him? Because, if she isn’t, and this is going to sound very mean, I have to say from briefly glancing at her blog that I can see why Siberia might have been an interesting option for him.

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