Less than 24 hours after leaving the Hamilton Bulldogs for the second time in less than a month, Sergei Kostitsyn has been convinced to stay with the AHL club.
Kostitsyn, whose brother Andrei still plays for Montreal, was first suspended on Sept. 30 when he refused to report to Hamilton after being sent down by the Canadiens. He asked for a trade from the team, but when one didn't materialize he eventually changed his mind and reported to the Bulldogs.
He scored four points in five games for Hamilton, but on Wednesday packed up his equipment and left the team again. Reports suggested that he was considering offers from a trio of teams in the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia.
The Montreal Gazette is reporting that Kostitsyn met with Montreal Canadiens' general manager Bob Gainey on Wednesday night, where he agreed to rejoin the Bulldogs.
Gainey's intervention has kept the apparently unhappy forward satisfied for the moment. The team confirmed on Thursday that Kostitsyn is back with the club.
Kostitsyn's agent, Don Meehan, discussed his client's options on Wednesday.
"I know that Sergei is thinking about going to play in Russia, but I don't know if he'll go," said Meehan to The Canadian Press.
A French-language MSN article posted Wednesday reported that a physical altercation between Canadiens players Scott Gomez and Kostitsyn during the preseason was a motivating factor that contributed to the younger Kostitsyn being assigned to the Bulldogs.
However, sources tell TSN's French-language sister station RDS that there was no incident between Kostitsyn and Gomez.
The report, written by Mario Langlois, says that the alleged incident took place prior to Montreal's season-opening game in Toronto on Oct. 1, as the club was preparing to depart for a team-building excursion in Caledon, ON. Before leaving, the team went out for a night on the town and returned to Gomez's house. At some point in the evening, the report says that Gomez and Kostitsyn got into an altercation that was serious enough that other players had to jump in and separate them.
According to the report, general manager Bob Gainey and head coach Jacques Martin were notified about the alleged incident the next day and Gainey reportedly didn't want another off-ice distraction like the ones that the team dealt with last season. As a result, Kostitsyn was sent to the minors prior to the team's departure for Caledon.
A Canadiens spokesman told TSN late Thursday afternoon that there was no truth to the suggestion that the alleged incident had any bearing on the decision to demote Kostitsyn. The club went on to say that management had already decided to send the young winger to Hamilton following Montreal's final preseason game against the Buffalo Sabres on Sept. 26. The incident is alleged to have taken place later that same evening.
Earlier last month, Kostitsyn missed a team bus during Montreal's preseason game in Quebec City. At one specific practice, the forward was blasted a couple of times by Martin for not paying attention.