Montreal Canadiens: Lafleur Says Koivu Out, Kovalev In

Matt Eichel@@mattyalloutSenior Writer IMay 26, 2008

More controversy in Montreal.

According to Montreal Canadiens icon Guy Lafleur, the Canadiens should focus on resigning Alex Kovalev than Saku Koivu when both players' contracts are up July 1st, 2009.

"I have the conviction that Kovalev is more useful to the Canadiens than the captain, especially if (Kovalev) continues to play as he did this year," commented Lafleur.

This coming year, Koivu is scheduled to make $4.75 million while Kovalev will make $4.5 million, $250,000 less than Koivu.

Lafleur adds, "Not that Koivu doesn't have his place on the team or that he hasn't given everything to the Habs during his career in Montreal, but business is business and the best possible team must be given to the fans."

"Koivu is an excellent (chip) who could bring interesting dividends (in return)."

At the end of the playoffs, rumors were circulating that the players liked Kovalev more as captain than Koivu because Kovalev was easy-going while Koivu was a "hard-ass" captain.

The Canadiens have four unrestricted free agents including Mark Streit and seven restricted free agents including Andrei Kostitsyn, Maxim Lapierre, Mikhail Grabovski, Josh Gorges, Ryan O'Byren, and Jaroslav Halak.

Montreal has 13 Unrestricted/Restricted Free Agents coming up July 1st, 2009, including Kovalev and Koivu.