Ilya Kovalchuk Biography
With dazzling moves and a supersonic shot, Ilya Kovalchuk has the Atlanta Thrashers in the hunt for their first-ever playoff appearance. Kidzworld looks at the NHL's newest scoring sensation.
Ilya Kovalchuk - Growing UpIlya Kovalchuk was born April 14, 1983 in Tver, Russia. His dad, Valeri, played professional basketball, so it was no surprise that he started taking Ilya to the gym for workouts and co-ordination drills when Ilya was just three years old. When Ilya Kovalchuk stared playing road hockey at the age of five, his dad sent Ilya to hockey school to improve his skills. By the time he was seven, Ilya Kovalchuk was skating circles around other players his age, so he started playing against older kids. As a teenager, Kovalchuk soon developed into a left winger with great size, blazing speed and a gifted scoring touch. Scouts were calling him the best player his age in the world and were predicting he would be an NHL superstar. In 2001, Ilya became the first player from Russia to be picked first overall in the NHL Draft, when he was selected by the Atlanta Thrashers.
Ilya Kovalchuk - From Moscow to AtlantaIlya Kovalchuk definitely lived up to expectations during his first year in the NHL. He led all rookies with 29 goals and finished second to teammate, Dany Heatley in points. While Kovalchuk showed great offensive creativity and talent during his first year, Ilya also developed a reputation for being a goal suck and a bit cocky. His coaches would sometimes bench him for hanging on to the puck too long or not backchecking on defense and some players weren't too impressed with Kovalchuk's enthusiastic celebrations after he scored a goal.
Ilya Kovalchuk - Superstar ThrasherIlya Kovalchuk is now one of the top hockey players in the world and he's helped the Thrashers become playoff contenders for the first time in the team's short history. Kovalchuk and the Atlanta Thrashers' accomplishments this season are even more impressive, considering the team has had to deal with the death of teammate, Dan Snyder and the injury of star Dany Heatley, after the two players were in a serious car accident in September 2003. If the Thrashers make the playoffs in the 2003-04 season, Ilya Kovalchuk will be a favorite to win the NHL's MVP Award.
Ilya Kovalchuk - Did U Know?
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