Talk about a dark time for the black and gold (or powder blues, in this case). With 12 regulars out of the lineup (including both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on IR for the indefinite future) in the winter of 2011, former Penguins GM Ray Shero officially hit the panic button and traded for 38-year Alex Kovalev to help try and salvage his team’s playoff aspirations.
Kovalev, a former Penguins star during the late 90s/early 2000s, was all but washed up at this point in his career. With legs that made it seem like the guy was trying to skate through quicksand, Kovalev all but made up for his lack of speed with his patented world class-hands. And I mean, they were still absolutely filthy. Just like an old dude who still has the ability to consistently pelt a golf ball 150 yards down the center of the fairway, Kovy still had hands with the potential to make his opponents look absolutely silly at times.
Before I go any further, if you haven’t watched this ten-year old video of Kovalev doing absolutely insane shit with hockey pucks, give it a watch. Trust me. It’s worth all 108 seconds (low-key shoutout to me for doing the math and putting the video length in seconds).
Now, if you’re trying to figure out how in the hell a human being is able to roof a backhander with one hand on a hockey stick, you’re not the only one. Quick disclaimer: I’ve legit tried doing this no more than 100 hundred times in my lifetime, and I’m here to admit that I’ve failed every single time. My only assumption is that Kovalev used to hammer out so many wrist curls in his heyday that John Buccigross would immediately beat off to the thought of his workout program if it resembled anything like that of former MLB player Dan Uggla’s “offseason workout routine.”
So back to the story. Even though Kovalev’s All-Star days were clearly behind him, he was still extremely effective in limited situations. Specifically, he was an absolute beast on the shootout (in fact, Kovalev would go on to finish his career in 2013 with a final tally of 13 for 27 – a 48.1% clip).
On March 27th, 2011, nobody experienced the wrath of Kovalev’s silky mitts on a shootout attempt more so than Florida Panthers backup goaltender Scott Clemmensen. With a subtle backhand deke that froze Clemmensen worse than Eminem on Saturday Night Football, Kovalev returned the puck to his forehand and buried quite possibly one of the easiest goals in shootout history.
Then, what proceeded to follow will be etched in my memory for eternity.
No idea how you return from something like that. Just like everyone always remembers that kid who pissed his pants in elementary school (shoutout Superbad), I feel like everyone always remembers whenever an athlete gets owned by a water bottle. In fact, Clemmensen’s not the only hockey player that’s ever squeezed a Gatorade bottle like a dipshit (see here and here for more examples). However, I kind of feel like given the circumstances of what happened to him five seconds prior, this is by far and away the worst offense.
P.S. – It kind of seems like Alex Kovalev thinks that Dan Bylsma was not a very good hockey coach when he played for him.
Ahhhhhhhhhh, ya think? Imagine threatening to bench a 1,000-point scorer because he didn’t want to blindly dump the puck into the offensive zone and chase after it like a goon. Red Wings games should be entertaining to watch this upcoming season.
Have yourself a Thursday, folks.