Alexei Kovalev to play in Russia

Updated: August 8, 2011, 6:28 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

Veteran winger Alexei Kovalev has signed a two-year deal to play with Atlant Mytischi of the Kontinental Hockey League.

Kovalev

Kovalev last played with the Pittsburgh Penguins after being dealt by the Ottawa Senators at the trade deadline last season.

Former Philadelphia Flyers right wing Nikolay Zherdev signed a one-year deal to play for Atlant last week.

Kovalev, who won a Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers in 1994, was the 15th overall pick in the 1991 entry draft.

The 38-year-old had 1,024 points in 1,302 regular season games in the NHL playing for four different teams, the Rangers, Penguins, Senators and Montreal Canadiens.

Kovalev may be leaving the NHL to play overseas, but the veteran forward isn't leaving quietly.

In a recent interview with Russian newspaper Sovetsky Sport, Kovalev criticized former Senators coach Cory Clouston and the media.

"In two seasons, I still couldn't understand the ideas of our coach Cory Clouston," Kovalev told the newspaper, according to an article translated by Yahoo! Sports.

"It seemed that he scoffed at some players. You have to treat players kindly. If you leave someone on the bench, you should explain why it happened. This is coach's job. But when a player is benched and doesn't understand what is happening, he becomes lost."

Kovalev also criticized Ottawa journalists "that don't watch hockey at all" and "channel their anger on hockey players," according to the report.

"Let them make up nonsense about me," Kovalev said according to Yahoo! Sports. "But I am happy with what I have done. I have played not for myself but for the team and fans. Teammates have never said a bad word about me. Fans are happy. I am approached on the street in Montreal, New York and told one thing: 'Don't take the bad to your head. We always support and love you. You're the best.'"

Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.com.