Alex Kovalev on empowering the modern player to be creative

Glass & Out

The Coaches Site Founder Aaron Wilbur sits down with some of hockey’s top coaches to learn about their coaching journey and dissect the lessons they’ve learned along the way. Each episodes features key takeaways for coaches of all levels. The Glass & Out podcast is required listening for coaches looking to gain key insights from hockey’s most influential leaders.

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His surprising venture into coaching led him to China.

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We’ve got another big episode for you this week, as we welcome Alex Kovalev.

The former NHL star just wrapped up his first season as the head coach of the Kunlun Red Star, the Beijing-based entry into the KHL. He spent the previous two seasons as the club’s assistant coach.

In addition to the many challenges caused by COVID-19, including relocating the team to Mystishchi, Russia due to travel restrictions in China, Kunlun presents the unique challenge in that the roster is largely in place to support the development of players with Chinese heritage to compete for China in the 2022 Winter Olympics, which will be held in Beijing. In other words, not exactly the ideal situation to begin a coaching career.

After a playing career that saw him capture a Stanley Cup, Olympic gold medal, and record 1,029 points in just over 1,300 games as arguably one of the most skilled players of his generation, Kovalev’s venture into coaching could be seen as a somewhat surprising move.

But with his passion for the game and wealth of hockey knowledge, Kunlun offered a great opportunity to cut his teeth in the coaching game. And with aspirations of returning to the NHL, it’s clear that this is just the beginning.

Find out his thoughts on why coaches should empower their players to use their imagination and make plays, how his early development helped shape the player he would become, and what he learned during his first season as a head coach.

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