The Alex Kovalev saga has taken another interesting return as the Canadiens forward has refuted a published report that stated his days in Montreal were over and that he was unhappy with the Canadiens young players.
According to a report on a Montreal-based web site ruefrontenac.com, Kovalev, when speaking to a friend within Montreal's Russian community, stated that the Habs lack of success this season is directly tied to the fact that the team's young players were undisciplined away from the rink.
In an e-mail to TSN's Darren Dreger, Kovalev refuted that report, and stated:
"It's not my words but I can't tell you whose (they are.) I never talk about my teammates; that's all I can tell you.
"I don't care what people say about me or write about me. I just want to come back and play hard."
Since being sent home for a two-game break by Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey on Tuesday, rumours surrounding the veteran forward have been rampant in Montreal. A report in La Presse Wednesday stated that Gainey was actively trying to trade the three-time All-Star.
TSN Insider Bob McKenzie says that is simply not the case.
"All I can tell you is this," McKenzie said during the first intermission of the Canadiens game against the Capitals on Wednesday. "When NHL teams are calling the Montreal Canadiens regarding Alex Kovalev, (the Canadiens are saying) he's not available right now. They want to get him back in their lineup and they want to see what the couple of games off is going to do for him."
Kovalev, who will become an unrestricted free-agent at seasons' end, has a no-trade clause in his contract and would have to approve of any deal that Gainey could put together.
NHL on TSN analyst Keith Jones does not believe that Kovalev would have handled the situation the way it has been reported.
"I can tell you that he is a very intelligent guy and that he's not going to pass information along about his teammates," Jones stated from the NHL on TSN set. "He might say it in frustration to a couple of friends, he's not going to give it to the public or to (the media) to feed all over."
The three-time All-Star has 13 goals and 26 assists in 56 games with the Habs this season, far off last season's pace of 35 goals and 49 assists that he had while leading the Canadiens to first in the Eastern Conference.
Kovalev could rejoin the team as early as Saturday prior to the Canadiens game with the Ottawa Senators.