Rangers Roundup: Alexei Kovalev is a head coach, roster battle updates and more news

Alexei Kovalev has just been named the head coach of the KHL’s Kunlun Red Star Beijing. According to Gillian Kemmerer, Kunlun will play in Mystishci, Russia due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alexei Kovalev on Mike Keenan during 1994 Rangers Cup season

In the same report, Gillian asked Alexei about Rangers coach, Mike Keenan who also coached in KHL. “I liked Mike Keenan because he was fair with players,” he revealed.

“[Keenan] knew that benching us would be our motivation. He knew that the only way to get stuff out of me and make me play better was by benching me, or pretending that he was benching me and I’m not going to play again.” Kovalev further explained that some point during the benching Keenan would come up to him and say, “Are you ready to play? Or are you going to just enjoy the ride?” For Kovalev it resonated, “He knows how to motivate [players].”

Kovalev Cup celebration (Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

At one point during the interview, Kovalev revealed how nasty Keenan was to the Russian players. Sadly, that’s not shocking considering just how brutal Keenan was to players like Mike Gartner.

Yeah—there was one time his motivation didn’t really work, which was right before the Stanley Cup playoffs started. He brought all four Russians to the office and he started giving us all this shit like, “You don’t care [about the Cup], you’re Russians, blah, blah.” We kindof just looked at each other like, “What the hell is he talking about?” I had guys standing next to me who had won Olympic Championships and Russian Championships and all kinds of things, and he was telling us that we didn’t know how to win! [Laughs] So we listened and just left the room.

Alexei Kovalev

Does Libor Hajek have a chance at starting?

There has been some talk about Libor Hajek having a change to get into the Rangers starting 6 defense group. I am here to tell you, that is not going to happen. At least not for game 1 against Carolina.

Hajek certainly has all the tools and skillset to be a bottom 6 defender. There is just no way at this time David Quinn is going to break up Brendan Smith and Jacob Trouba. Especially since they were playing so well down the stretch.

Quinn will ride the horses that got him here. Still, Libor will certainly be the 7th defenseman and waiting in the wings ready to answer the call should it come.

More NY Rangers news

Larry Brook’s of the NY POST gives you the latest training camp update.

I break down why Igor Shesterkin will be named the starter.

Sportsnaut’s latest NHL list of players who missed practice.

Yesterday Shesterkin was asked if he expected to get most of the games to which he provided a diplomatic response. “It all depends on the coaching staff, no matter what happens I will be supportive of my teammates.” Shesterkin did add that he worked very hard to be in a position to do so.

The Czar of New York did honor The King when he said, “Watching Henrik, you see the work ethic. It’s an unbelievable crazy work ethic.” Shesterkin also said that he learned a lot from NHL players about not getting too high or low after wins and losses.

David Quinn knows Shesterkin has the ability to be the number one based on his play. The head coach who also believes a player needs “swagger”, which he feels the Czar has plenty of both on and off the ice. The safe choice is going with the veteran, Henrik Lundqvist. The right choice is going with the kid, Igor Shesterkin.

It’s his time to shine.

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Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore