Despite a tough season, Ilya Kovalchuk, 37, has no plans to end his career just yet. He values his children’s wishes to keep playing, but doesn’t intend to play for a long length of time. I have to thank the children for the boost they provide, he said in an interview with Russian media outlet Championat.
Ilya Kovalchuk was one of the NHL’s foremost players during the early and mid-2000s when, for several seasons, he recorded between 40 and 50 goals.
But after a swing in Russia, the comeback in the NHL has not been as successful, and the last two seasons he has not reached the same level of play as during his heyday.
This season, the 37-year-old Kovalchuk was first waived by the Los Angeles Kings in December, and in February he was traded from the Montreal Canadiens to the Washington Capitals.
The age is slowly but surely coming towards Kovalchuk, but he still has no plans to quit.
“I am not a Jaromir Jagr but as long as I like to play I will continue,” he said.
The kids want to go to the games
An important factor is Kovalchuk’s children. They still want to see him play.
“They push me not to quit and say ‘no no don’t end your career, we want to go to your games.’ The older kids keep up with the news and know more about what is happening and when the season will resume.”
“It drives me so I have to thank the children for the boost they give,” he said.
Kovalchuk played just seven games for Washington before the NHL season was paused. During the forced break, he has had to live a life without ice hockey and get a feel for how everyday life will be when his career is over.
“I spend a lot of time with my kids, going to their workouts. Something similar will work initially before I find something else to do,” he said.
“I don’t even know what I’ll do after hockey. In fact, these two and a half months of self-isolation is a model of what will happen when I finish playing. That’s how it will turn out the first time, until I find myself somewhere else. I will spend a lot of time with my children and give them time. Ride to their workouts, games.”
Ilya Kovalchuk has won Olympic gold, World Cup gold and the KHL championship, but not the Stanley Cup. Washington was one of the best teams in the regular season, and he feels they have a good chance if and when the season is completed.
By Jon Sorensen