51 Andre Kovalenko
1995-1996 Inaugural Season
No set tag. Neck tagging 56-R.
This jersey was acquired by a private collector, who acquired it from a former team employee. The first-year jerseys had no set mark, however this jersey is probably from the first set, since Kovalenko was only with the team through mid-December, before going to Montreal as part of the Patrick Roy trade. Further, the jersey shows a lot of loose stitching along the black and white piping, which appears to be typical of the first-set Avalanche jerseys. The jersey shows heavy game use, with numerous marks, small tears and burns throughout. Both the back and sleeve numbers exhibit soft fraying from the rubbing of the textured material. The sleeves have numerous board marks, as well as a few red dasher marks. The right sleeve has two nice sew repairs; one on the forearm has been backed with burgundy jersey material. The left sleeve shows an unrepaired slice approximately one inch in length in the cuff area. The front of the jersey has some nice black marks on and near the crest. Good pilling throughout. The jersey shows very good overall wear for a player who played only 26 games. Of interest is the smaller crest, stylized letters, and blocked Starter logo on the first-year jerseys. The jersey has no official documentation, however its chain of ownership is short and has been verified.
[ click on individual thumbnails to see larger images ]
Many Russian players came from poor families. Their less than promising prospects encouraged many of those boys to make something of themselves in the world of sports. Kovalenko is an exception. He was born in the small town of Balakovo on the Volga River, and his family, by Russian standards, was fairly well to do.
Kovalenko has never forgotten his roots. He was grateful for the opportunity to play for his national team in the 1991 Canada Cup, the 1996 World Cup of Hockey and the 1998 Olympics. After a dismal season in Canada he scored only six goals in the regular season, Kovalenko's performance in Nagano, Japan, was excellent. In six games, he scored four goals. He dreams of being invited to play for Russia in the Olympics at Salt Lake City in 2002.
During his first three years in the NHL, Kovalenko's output was moderate. Then his team moved from Quebec City to Denver, Colorado. The Colorado Avalanche were headed for the Stanley Cup and wanted to get their hands on Montreal's Patrick Roy, who was in a dispute with Canadiens coach Mario Tremblay at the time. In order to get Roy, the Avalanche decided to sacrifice their young forwards Kovalenko and Martin Rucinsky. Kovalenko's nine goals in the previous 10 games with Colorado didn't encourage his team to keep him.
Kovalenko stayed with Montreal for less than a season. His performance was good during the regular season but fell short in the playoffs. That was all the excuse the club's administration needed to trade him to Edmonton. In the regular season he scored 32 goals, but after a year with the Oilers, Kovalenko finally came through in the playoffs, scoring four important goals in the series. However, the next year he scored only half a dozen goals and he appeared on the ice only in one playoff game. Kovalenko asked general manager Glen Sather to trade him. Six months later, at the start of the 1998-99 season, his wish was granted.
His term with Philadelphia lasted less than two months. He saw little ice time and in 13 games he earned only one point. Kovalenko thought the Flyers only wanted him so they could get rid of the costly Alexandre Daigle, who wasn't on good terms with Bobby Clarke. Still, Philadelphia was actively seeking an experienced defenseman, and once they set their sights on Adam Burt of Carolina, Kovalenko was swapped. Philly coach Roger Neilson told him, "Don't blame it on yourself, you were just missing your chance."
Since March of 1999, the Russian Tank has been playing for the Carolina Hurricanes, who take advantage of his ability as a shooter. Coach Paul Morris and veteran players Ron Francis and Gary Roberts are firm in their opinion that Kovalenko has become an integral part of the team.
Right wing - Shoots left
Born: June 7, 1970 - Balakovo, Russia
5-10, 200 lbs.
Quebec's 6th choice, 148th overall in the 1990 Entry Draft. Transferred to Colorado after Quebec franchise relocated, June 21, 1995. Traded to Montreal by Colorado with Martin Rucinsky and Jocelyn Thibault for Patrick Roy and Mike Keane, December 6, 1995. Traded to Edmonton by Montreal for Scott Thornton, September 6, 1996. Traded to Philadelphia by Edmonton for Alexandre Daigle, January 29, 1999. Traded to Carolina by Philadelphia for Adam Burt, March 6, 1999. Signed as a free agent by Boston, July 25, 2000.