Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Alex Kovalev: The One and Only

Always a favourite for quotes. Certainly always a favourite to watch. We found out yesterday that Kovalev is also one to admire for his generosity.

Not that I don't admire his generosity, but I was blown away by something peripheral to the whole video story, which I will have to revisit at some later time for distraction. In Pat Hickey's story about Kovalev and his 100% to charity project, I was stopped cold at this quote:

"I was seven years old and I was training five or six hours a day," Kovalev recalled.

Five or six hours a day?? Can we even comprehend this??

If you ever wanted to know why so many NHL players can't hold a candle to Kovalev, and look like children on the ice when Kovalev applies himself, we should look to this quote. After all, practice makes perfect. And, there is no substitute. If you think about it, Kovalev has probably practiced the one-handed backhand shot more than most junior players practice over a four-year career.

Kovalev was obviously also one determined little hockey dreamer as he managed to keep playing through his problems and conceal them from his parents for a while. So, when Gretzky quotes Messier calling him a Force of Nature, it's worth considering how hard he worked to become a natural talent.

Indeed, much could be learned from an example like this. For example, Canadian hockey programs could revise their schedules and look to add more practices to reverse the current skew in game to training ratio. I would be happier if the Canadiens took some lead in working this way with their young draftees, as opposed to getting into game simulations from the get go.

Five to six hours... It shows in those clips of the video doesn't it?

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