For every positive thing, there’s an equal negative thing. Between angry blogposts and twitter debates, the controversy yet again falls on the back on Ilya Kovalchuk, who claimed the KHL playoff MVP trophy. The media, as usual pulled out it’s knives, even calling his last gesture nothing but an “Emotional outburst” But – and what you might not read – was the gesture after. Watch the video, helpfully provided by the KHL camera who caught it. He tried to escape the photo with the cup, because he wanted to give the award to someone else – Evgeni Dadonov.
You can hate on Kovalchuk as much as you want, trust me, even as a fan, there’s a few things that even annoy me. But, he is an adult and a respected captain. He, himself, knows that he got the award more for because he’s Ilya Kovalchuk. I personally think he knew it as soon as he was told, explaining post game that: “It seems to me that the organizers have made the wrong choice.” He knows who it was meant to go to and that’s why he did it, ”It’s a real family and we’ve been a tight-knit team all season”, Kovalchuk continued, he knew the family like The captain knows the family, he knows what he had to do as a captain. You cannot fault him for something he had no control over.
There is a case for both players mind you. Now, if you know me, I’m a big lover of Dadonov, and penned a piece at the end of the Dynamo series how he was finally in the limelight. Taking the playoff scoring race and at moments, even breaking north America media for a Datsuyk-like goal. He completed the season still on top. He just fell short of being a point per game player, but finishing top with 15 goals and 20 points, falling only short to Alexander Radulov at 21 and teammate Vadim Shipachyov at 22. Not only being a team that set the record for the 3-0 comeback, but during so, setting a individual record for playoff goals. Dadonov is a living record, and the great testament to SKA’s victory. Kovalchuk even gave him as an obvious choice, “You know that [Dadonov] beat sniper record in the playoffs CHL . He scored some very important goals” If the rumours about Patrick Thoresen leaving away come to fruition, then, it could even be seen as a letter falling on his jersey.
That’s not to say the old man doesn’t have some credit due for coming near the MVP conversation. finishing with 19 points and leading in playoffs ice time, taking majority of both PP and PK time. But it wasn’t so much the quantity of his scoring as the importance: with the team under fire and on the brink of defeat against CSKA, the captain embarked on a five-game point streak. Not only he has been one of the consistent players, he’s been a powerhouse too. German Titov justified the result that while the captain was not the top scorer but that his game winning goals including “it was his second goal eventually became victorious” but also that Kovalchuk had to defense as well as playing forward on the special teams. It’s hard to underestimate how much Kovalchuk carries of the team.
There is always the forgotten one. Mikko Koskinen; facing the most shots in the playoffs, 99 more than Anders Nilsson of Ak Bars, having constant highlight reel saves and, finishing wit 93.6. He got his juice, literally, with the cup but there’s no understating Koskinen’s importance. Search SKA’s twitter feed, constantly Koskinen,Koskinen,Koskinen. Not only has he settled as one of the best in the playoffs and blowing out rival Anders Nilsson. Mikko Koskinen; facing the most time on ice, most assists as a goalie and in most categories Koskinen has blown away in terms not only saving SKA’s constant lacklustre second periods, but moreso being one, if not the main part, of SKA’s penalty kill. There is a weight to the argument that the forwards get far more attention. Yet, SKA simply do not complete the turnaround without Koskinen, and that, is one of main reasons that he should be in the MVP talks.
Whoever your MVP is, be it Dadonov, Kovalchuk or Koskinenor even Bykov for him out-coaching and making the key line decisions. Whoever it is, it’s a strange controversy, but one that even Kovalchuk himself knew. He didn’t need nor want the trophy, it was given the young star who led away with the game winning goals, who inspired the team, worked the powerplay. The captain wears the captaincy for a reason. Kovy’s not a young a man, turning 35 barely a week ago. He’s captained ever since being with the Thrashers. Do not throw hate at him, but whoever picked the MVP. More importantly, the small trophy you get is not the Gagarin that the team passes around and lives forever. Even fans themselves, have their own personal MVPs written on their cheek.
And that, in the end, is worth more than a petty controversy.