LEUKERBAD, Switzerland – Long-time Russian national team player Alexei Kovalyov, 41, calls it a career after 24 years in professional hockey.
“Unfortunately I have to retire because of my injuries,” he told TV channel Kanal9 at a camp in Leukerbad.
Kovalyov represented Russia and the Soviet Union at several occasions and won Olympic gold in Albertville 1992. He played in three Olympic Winter Games, three IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships and two World Cup of Hockey tournaments.
Besides Olympic gold, Kovalyov also won Olympic bronze in Salt Lake City 2002, World Championship bronze in Vienna 2005 and World Junior gold in 1992. At club level his biggest success was winning the Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers in 1994. The Togliatti native moved from Dynamo Moscow to the Rangers in 1992 where he was playing for nine years. Kovalyov spent 19 seasons in the National Hockey League where he also played for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and for the Florida Panthers before retiring from NHL hockey in 2013.
In 1,316 regular-season games – more than any other Russian has played – Kovalyov had 430 goals and 599 assists; and 45 goals and 55 assists in 123 playoff games.
In the Russian/Soviet top league he played for Dynamo Moscow, his hometown team Lada Togliatti and Ak Bars Kazan during two lockouts, and for Atlant Mytishi in 2011/2012.
After leaving the NHL in 2013, Kovalyov spent last season with Swiss second-tier team EHC Visp and organizing hockey camps in the region. He contributed 29 goals and 41 assists in 59 games to winning the National League B.
“I’d have loved to play until I’m 50 but the injuries from the last few seasons don’t let me continue my career,” Kovalyov said. “It’s a hard decision for me but it is what it is. It was my last season.”