Cracking the Kovalev Code

In February of 1918, German engineer Arthur Scherbius applied for a patent on a new type of cipher machine he had developed. It would later be marketed as Enigma model A, and the German military would use subsequent versions of the machine before and during World War II. When the Allied forces managed to crack the Enigma it gave them a critical advantage in the Battle of the Atlantic. Some say it trimmed the length of the war by two years.

Cracking the Enigma was key then, and if you pay any attention to the Montreal Canadiens, it’s still of the utmost importance. But instead of a small black machine that looks like a typewriter with gears, the Hab enigma is a 6’2’’ 229-pound Russian winger by the name of Alex Kovalev.

Kovalev, the story goes, is one of the most gifted players in the league. He can stickhandle in a phone booth, tie defenders up in knots, make plays and shots that your average NHLer couldn’t dream of. Ah, but he’s an “enigma” who plays below potential most of the time. How do you solve a riddle like Kovalev? Oh, he’s just so fucking intriguing. An enigma…

Sorry, Kovalev isn’t an enigma. He’s just an underachiever.

If you had a highly paid colleague with all the talent in the world who only occasionally chose to actually work and spent the rest of the time sowing the seeds of discontent, would you call them an enigma? I’d call them a lazy prick. (Or, yeah, boss.)

Kovalev gets a pass from so many people because he just happens to be able to play hockey like a motherfucker when he chooses to do so. In truth, he doesn’t give a vodka shot about anyone but himself. As for his abilities, he’s had one 40 goal season and one 30 goal season in his entire NHL career. He usually finishes the year as a minus. Now he’s also become a one man press shitfest in Montreal despite a strong start to the season. (Yes, he has so far played very well.)

The latest ridiculousness erupted after Kovalev said the coach should have called a time out near the end of Tuesday’s game, which saw the Panthers tie the game with just over 10 seconds left thanks to a bad penalty. Two things:

  1. There were no stoppages in play during said penalty, so Carbo couldn’t have called a time out if he wanted to.
  2. I don’t think Kovalev was trying to stick it to Carbo. He was just being Kovalev. Meaning: he was just being a selfish prick.

Yes, the Montreal press are ridiculous, but he gives them reason. At this point, every time he opens his mouth they’re praying for him to say something controversial. The French press in particular would love to see his ass traded. Many Habs fans have had enough of his bullshit.

During this year’s edition of my hockey pool, the discussion turned, as it inevitably does, towards whether or not Kovalev was going to wake up this year and actually try during more than 30 percent of the games. My counsel was to wait until next year to put any faith in him. Why? Kovalev’s contract is up after next season. He’ll be chasing a new deal next year. Oooh, he’s so complicated.

Whatever happens this year or next, fans and the press need to stop turning Kovalev into something he’s not by insisting on calling him an enigma. There’s nothing hidden or coded about him. He plays hard when he feels like it and says whatever he wants. And he doesn’t care about the consequences of either of those traits.

What’s so enigmatic about that?



  1. Kovy being Kovy.

  2. I’ms sorry I can’t read this post. Every time I see the name Kovalev I just start tearing my hair out and gouging out my own eyes.

  3. Habs inside/out website says you are fools and gay laff fans, so shut up, losers and americans suck too.

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