Archive for February, 2011


Comparing Kovy to Bieber…Had to be Done!

In Hockey Hits on February 19, 2011 by geespotting

Alright, let it be known that I am not an actual Ilya Kovalchuk fan (for hockey followers), or a Justin Bieber fan (for those that follow global events), but, I do have to react to the constant negative comments that seem to follow each.

First off…the Kovalchuk muck.

 Anyone that knows anything about hockey knows that he is one of the most offensively skilled players in the world. His numbers won’t dispute that, a yearly 40 goal scorer, and a place among the year end top 10 point getters too. Despite that, he is regarded as a selfish, money-grubbing, don’t give a crap, spoiled Russian player. Those are usually words most commonly used to describe Kovy. So, how do I defend him?

 Let’s start with his long stay in Atlanta, a hockey hot-bed that has a team that usually hovers around the basement in the Eastern Conference. He has been surrounded with talented players before in Georgia, having played with Dany Heatley and Marian Hossa. Beyond those three…there hasn’t been too much support. Ilya’s first and only playoff appearance with the Thrashers was a short one after being swept by the Rangers a number of years ago. With all of that turmoil, Ilya never asked for a trade from the Thrashers. As a matter of fact, can anyone really remember any great TV interviews w/ Kovy while he was there? No…c’mon, it’s Atlanta already. We have all seen players on the defence in interviews…cry-babys like Phil Kessel, Ryan Kesler (up ’til this year at least), Dany Heatley (a player who asked to be traded not once…but, twice) and others. I can’t recall ever seeing a Kovalchuk interview where his back was up against the wall, you know, the way Pavel Bure used to conduct them. Not to say it hasn’t happened…but, in Atlanta, and even now Jersey…those pressers don’t usually make TSN, or even YouTube for that matter. Never once did I see Ilya on TV somewhere saying that he wouldn’t do this, or do that, if the money was right. Right?

  Secondly, let’s talk about the move to the ‘swamp’. Kovalchuk was traded to Jersey last season, as he turned down a pair of big money deals from Atlanta, so, in order to obtain something for losing Kovy, the deal was made. Kovalchuk had some instant chemistry with Zach Parise and Travis Zajac, but, it didn’t amount to much once the playoffs started, and the Flyers stunned the Devils in 5 games.  So…when the chips were down…Kovy did what a lot of skilled Russians do…he tried to do it himself. You would see a few instances of Kovalchuk trying to break his way through a tough Philly defence…but, he would fail, as did the Bruins, the Habs, and even for Kane, Toews and the Hawks. Despite the Chicago Cup win, their big stars weren’t as prominent as they were in other series. Let’s face it…at the time, everyone thought the Devil playoff upset was a huge failure, and the Kovalchuk trade was deemed the same fate. What no one knew at that time, was that the Flyers would have a remarkable playoff run, coming 2 wins away from the Cup, and it would pave the way for them to be one of the dominant teams in hockey today.

 So, the Summer came, and so did the “free agent frenzy” on July 1st. Kovalchuk remained without a contract for much of the Summer, and had apparently turned down deals with L.A. and a big one from the Islanders. As I see it though…that’s okay. He is a free agent, and he can go wherever he wants to. Then the deal came with New Jersey…one that would be turned down by the NHL…twice! Kovalchuk was made to look like the villain. As I recall, Jersey GM Lou Lamoriello made the deal without a gun pointed at his head. If that is the offer on the table, and you want to play there…you take it! I really don’t understand how people can blame Kovy on this saying ‘that he only wants the money’, and then saying that he should just go to the KHL in Russia if he doesn’t like the deal. To go play back in his home country is an option that almost all Russian players look at come free agent time. Why can’t Kovalchuk, a star player for years in the NHL, have that same luxury? People also made the comment that he is not a team player, and that he doesn’t play with heart. Remember the mention earlier about how he wanted to try and do it himself during the playoffs? That doesn’t show a lack of effort, or playing without heart. A bit selfish? Sure, but, Kovalchuk plays with a ton of passion, and even when he isn’t on the scoresheet, he is noticeable. Watch him play, if you aren’t convinced. I have seen numerous great Canadian players check out during games…you don’t even know that they are on the ice. Have you seen Spezza pack it in before, or a Dany Heatley? It’s happened, but, Kovalchuk doesn’t do that. Russian players love to score…and they love to score whenever! Up 6-1, down 6-1, tied at 3…they want the puck in any situation. It should also be mentioned that Kovalchuk scored the game tying goal against Canada in the World Hockey Championships 3 years ago in Quebec City in the Gold Medal Game. It sent the game to OT, and guess who won the Gold for Russia on Canadian ice? Kovalchuk.  A year later, he was the captain, and MVP of the tourny as the Russians defended that Gold win. Now…I know what you are thinking…’it’s only the World Championship…it’s not a big deal’. Yeah, I know, it’s only a big deal here in Canada when we win! That was a pretty stacked Canadian team in Quebec…and one that should have won the whole thing…even with the talented Russians there…but, we fell short. When we have won before, Canadian workhorses like Ryan Smyth and Shane Doan have been dubbed Captain Canada for their respective stints as the leader of those Canuck squads. It’s a bigger deal in Europe, and Captain Russia was Kovalchuk for those 2 big Gold wins. I am guessing that has to count for something.

 Finally (yes, there is an end to this), Ilya is the leader of a resurgent Devil team that has been on the best tear in the NHL so far in 2011. He isn’t loading up on the points each game…but, he is on a 9 game point streak right now, and he has been coming through with game winners in a 2-1 OT win over Toronto, and then scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win over the Rangers last night, as a pair of examples. The New Jersey season started in turmoil as GM Lamoriello was over the salary cap, and had to play his team with a short bench, which didn’t result in any postive results for Jersey. Somehow, Kovy was blamed for that one…like it’s his fault that Lou couldn’t figure out how the cap works. It didn’t help with an in-experienced coach (John MacLean) scratching Kovalchuk for a game. All players have to be held accountable, I get that…but, to turf a star like that early in the season…it just doesn’t send the right message to your team. I understand ‘riding the pine’ for a few shifts, or even a period…but, to scratch a huge part of your team like that…c’mon…get over yourself already!  It was like Johnny Mac wanted to show Ilya that he could piss farther than he could. Needless to say, Johnny Mac would be expendable.  Add to injuries to Parise, and Marty Brodeur…and the season seemed lost. Enter new, old coach Jacques Lemaire. Instantly, he turned that team around, and did it with his defence first style. Did you hear of any argument from Kovalchuk…or any negative press from him? No…instead, he bought in, and has elevated his game again…and Jersey is winning, and all of a sudden this selfish, money grubbin’, don’t give a crap player is leading the charge!

 Alright, I have defended him to the point of him appearing like a Brother…but, c’mon hockey people, cut the crap already about all the Russian stereotypes and money etc. Do you get it?

So…how does that tie in to Justin Bieber? Here is justifying Justin and the Bieber fever!

 So, I love pop music, and always have. Do I care for the music of Bieber? Not really actually. I know that he sells millions of records, and has millions of downloads, but, his music fails in comparison to pop stars like Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and even Britney. Radio music charts (for airplay) rarely have a Justin tune hitting the top 20.  Does he have talent? Well, I suppose he does. He CAN sing, he CAN dance, and he CAN actually play instruments. Is he remarkable? No…not yet…but, give the kid a break, as he is just that a… KID! When I hear people say “I hate Justin Bieber”, I respond with “How come?”. Usually, the response has something to do with overexposure, and him being annoying and so forth. Oh, no wonder you hate him? I am annoyed constantly with people that I know…and I don’t hate them. You might be annoyed at this long blog…but, I am guessing that it doesn’t translate into hate? The overexposure is in no way Bieber’s fault. If I could overexpose myself…actually, let’s not go there. You get my point though? I have heard other people talk about his awkwardness during interviews, and on talk shows etc. Yeah, I see that…but, then, I see that from most teens! Does everyone remember that he is just a kid still?

 If I am watching TV and a feature shows up on MuchMusic, or ET Canada about someone that I don’t care about…then I just turn the channel, or turn the TV off. For those that are seeing just too much of Bieber, and his exposure…just turn away already. Last I checked…you have options!  Despite not being a fan of his music, I am defending Bieber and the fever that goes with him for the simple fact that it is very amusing to see that maybe the biggest pop star in the world right now is Canadian. I like when the kid mentions his hometown and country in interviews, and when he is on Ellen (for example) and cuts her off before going into break so that he can show everyone that he can hit a target in a hockey net because he is Canadian. C’mon…when Sid the Kid was shooting pucks into a laundry dryer on the Tonight Show with Leno…we couldn’t get enough. Yet, as proud Canadians, we feel the urge to bash this kid, just because everyone else does it. I respect when people will say…”well, I don’t get the music, or, he isn’t that good”. And I will agree! I think he is a pretty talented kid…but, still, just a kid, and has the potential to grow, and hopefully, become a star that can back the hype, ala Justin Timberlake, and as opposed to Aaron Carter. Hey…if you don’t like that type of music…that’s all good…but, hating a pretty humble Canadian kid for becoming a big star…’c’mon already! I can handle his overexposure…but, it’s the know-it-all haters who just want to be heard that makes me roll my eyes, and wish I was watching a Kovalchuk breakaway…or listening to a few seconds of “Baby”…but, just a few seconds though…

…Next time: Perfect Porn Stars…and the bad name that Charlie Sheen gives them!