Report: Alleged criminal linked to members of Canadiens

TSN.ca Staff
2/20/2009 6:43:41 PM
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As many problems as the Canadiens have had on the ice lately, they potentially have a greater one off the ice.

A suspect arrested last week in a police operation targeting organized crime is an acquaintance of Montreal Canadiens players Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn and Roman Hamrlik, according to a report in Friday's La Presse.
The police reportedly recorded conversations between the arrested man, Pasquale Mangiola, and at least two of the players. La Presse adds that the three Canadiens stars are not suspected of any criminal activity.

Pasquale was arrested on charges of drug trafficking last Thursday as part of an operation called ‘Project Axe.'

On Friday, Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey addressed the media and admitted the team was concerned over the matter.

"I can only go on what I know today, and what I know today is not good. It's not good for our team. It does not reflect well on our team, it does not reflect well on the individuals. It cannot be extinguished as a possible inhibitor to our performance."

"I'm not naive. I played, I was around, it was a different generation and a different time but when a player does not arrive to perform at his maximum because of his own making he really lets his teammates down," said Gainey.

The Hall of Famer did not go into specifics, but said the team sent a clear message to the players.

"We've made the players aware that this is not the kind of conduct that is part of people in our organization and for them individually as young athletes, as professionals who are trying to attain their goals, that they have to make stronger choices than the person beside them," he told reporters.

Gainey added that people in the organization have to be mindful of the people they deal with. "We're very concerned because we know that this person who became involved with those players, he's not the only person who wants to find a place to enter the inner area of the hockey team," he explained.

While there are many worthwhile organizations that the team deals with, there are also individuals with darker motivations who would be looking to strike up a friendship with younger players.

"There are also not good people, who are looking for either trophy friends or the possibility of being close to somebody who earns a million dollars plus, young people who are still developing their ability to reason, take in information, some of them could still be in high school," said Gainey.

The news is the latest distraction for a team that finished 1-4-1 on a crucial road trip and is in danger of missing the playoffs.

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