It has been no secret that the Montreal Canadiens have been actively shopping forward Alexei Kovalev around the league for the past month.
The tension between Kovalev and the Canadiens has taking another turn as Kovalev will not accompany the Canadiens on their recent road trip to Washington and Pittsburgh. Kovalev has been told by GM Bob Gainey to stay home while they explore their options.
Gainey has told the Montreal media that Kovalev is not on the same page as the coaching staff. Gainey has been in discussions with two Eastern Conference teams and one Western Conference team according to a source.
RDS.CA reported a few weeks ago that Pittsburgh, Calgary, and Washington are among the teams that have been linked to Kovalev.
Kovalev has 13 goals – 26 assists – 39 points in 57 games this season. Team officials have been mum on whether the Penguins will actively pursue Kovalev. For the right price it is expected they would be interested. Right now all of Ray Shero’s efforts are towards acquiring a “high end” type of winger.
Recently the two teams have held trade talks surrounding Ryan Whitney, Max Talbot. The acquisition of Mathieu Schneider likely takes the Canadiens out of the Whitney sweepstakes.
The Canadiens, Lightning and Stars will have scouts in attendance for the Penguins/Canadiens game.
Gainey said he decided that Kovalev should take a few days away from the team. Speaking in French, Gainey said he told Kovalev the team has no need of Kovalev’s services the way he’s currently playing. He added that Kovalev was tired and wasn’t playing with any emotion.
The GM said Kovalev’s situation would be re-evaluated at the end of the week but wouldn’t commit himself to saying that Kovalev would be back in the lineup for Saturday’s home game against Ottawa.
Gainey said Kovalev hasn’t asked for a trade and when asked whether Kovalev as on the block, he replied: “Nobody has talked to me about him.” He added: “This is the trading season.”