There was a time Alex Kovalev could do no wrong in Montreal. Of course, I mean big picture. In between all the taken-out-of-context quotes during interviews and nightly shifts off, the man was beloved…for whatever reason.
Call it nostalgia for eras past when the Habs boasted legitimate superstars who were just as talented (but, opposed to Kovalev, played like it), or even a shared taste for vodka and borscht. In any event, hundreds of people rallied outside the Bell Centre in an attempt to convince then-General Manager Bob Gainey to bring the enigmatic winger back to Montreal when he became an unrestricted free agent in 2009.
Of course, to those who will always have a soft spot in their hearts for the soft Russian who once upon a time gave up the puck in humiliating fashion to Boston Bruin Glen Murray in a playoff game, allowing a game-winning breakaway by feigning an injury: Life’s not fair.
No clearer was that made then when, all the while that this rally was taking place, Habs captain Saku Koivu was allowed to walk away without so much as a wave goodbye from the team or fans for which he had played all his career and on more than one occasion bled, sweat, and cried.
Instead of re-upping Kovalev, who had taken his sweet time mulling over an offer from Gainey (yes, despite it all, Gainey did end up making him an offer), Montreal moved on and the Habs promptly signed Michael Cammalleri, Brian Gionta, Jaroslav Spacek and Hall Gill en route to their most successful post-season run since their 1993 Stanley Cup victory. Coincidence?
So, amidst reports that Kovalev (via the Toronto Sun) is considering a return to the National Hockey League and has received several tryout offers, here are five reasons the Habs should stay away.