If Kovalev is sticking around, I'm glad for it

Here's the lede:

"Senators fans aren’t likely to get their wish when it comes to Alex Kovalev this summer."

That's from an Ottawa Sun article in which Bruce Garrioch cites an (inherently flawed) Sun online poll where 71 percent of respondents said they'd like to see Kovalev traded. He took the results of that online poll to suggest the whole fanbase wants him gone, and used that combined with some anonymous sources to construct a story about how Kovalev is an untradeable asset. (Does anyone still wonder why some players get tired of playing in Ottawa?)

Forget, for a moment, how obvious his untradeability (due to his age, nature, salary, and recent injury) is. Maybe you'll call me crazy, but I'm at least a little pleased that Kovalev won't be going anywhere other than Ottawa next season.

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2009 - Alex Kovalev 77 18 31 49 -8 54 4 0 5 0 165 10.9

Don't get me wrong; I'm not expecting miracles from this guy. I'd be quite surprised if he surpassed his point total from last season, but 40-50 points shouldn't be too far off (assuming, of course, that his injury is resolved before the season gets going). But I think Kovalev's contributions off the ice should be measured alongside those on the ice when looking at the guy's time in Ottawa.

First off, the guy's got mad skills. We'd all appreciate it if he used those skills in order to put more points on the board, but there's no denying that he's got them in spades. And he's not scared to work with his teammates to help them learn from him, either. Am I the only person who thinks Kovalev might have had a significant role in the development of Peter Regin as a second- (perhaps first-) line centre? Daniel Alfredsson would have played a role in it, too, but during and after practice (if I'm not mistaken), it wasn't uncommon to see Kovalev out on the ice playing around with his teammates.

Plus, as we all should know by now, Kovalev does plenty to stay in shape off the ice. He's in hella good shape, and his teammates see that--especially the young ones. He was well-liked by (some) of his Montreal Canadiens teammates, and the same has got to be true in Ottawa--particularly, again, with the younger players. His fitness techniques are like his skills: He's more than willing to help his teammates learn his best traits, even if they'd be better off steering away from the less desirable ones.

And one thing every team needs? Light-heartedness. There's a reason why a dodgeball game and a road trip with the fathers were instrumental in the Senators turnaround during 2009-10: The need to occasionally get away from the stress and get back to the fun. Am I the only one who remembers Kovalev's four-goal night, followed by his infamous Moonskate? Good times, those were. He had a lot of fans at that point in the season, and I bet that made him some friends among his teammates, too.

Kovalev definitely has his flaws. He can look lazy on the ice, he's inconsistent, he's *sigh* enigmatic. But he's got good qualities, too. And yeah, he's expensive, but with only one more season on the books, I think he's a good use of that cap space because of those positive contributions.

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