Montreal Canadiens Georges Laraque confessed to the Gazette that he approached the Canadiens Management to ask for a number switch.
Having always worn the no.27, he has been forced to change to no.17 when he joined the team; since a certain “Artist” already had it.
Call it superstition, or just coincidence; but Laraque’s first season as a no.17 was far from what we expected.
First, a groin injury had him miss the entire 2008 camp, as well as the first few games of the team. He thankfully made the roster for the home opener, but has been sidelined again after only two games.
The saga that followed was a mix of an on-and-off groin injury, combined with occasional healthy scratches. By the end of the season, his grand total was 33 games; meaning that he was being paid around $45, 000 per game.
Anxious to have a decent season, the Canadiens enforcer asked the Organization for the no.27; which should be logically available.
But the team decided to keep it as Kovalev 27 instead of Laraque 27.
It is a usual business for a team to be dealing with the fans’ anger and resentment regarding decisions that affect their “favourites”. The Habs Organization did not escape the fans' reactions following Alexei Kovalev’s drama during the off-season.
At first, it had to be the Habs’ fault. How could they let the Artist go without fighting? How is it possible that he hasn’t been Bob Gainey’s top priority?
But the world of Hockey is not made of candies and ice cream, and Bob Gainey had to make a decision; no matter how painful it was going to be.
Kovalev has made Montreal’s winters and summers for a few seasons. Perceived as a generous man involved in the community, his on-ice reputation did not always match those qualities.
Acquired from the Rangers, he has been seen as Bob Gainey’s biggest deal. However, some foes with the Organization and the fans came along the way to make it look like a regrettable decision.
From lazy to heart-less, Kovalev went through so much criticism; when the player himself looked like a misunderstood kid who just wanted some attention.
Things eventually became smoother, going as far as considering him as Saku Koivu's potential replacement. Unfortunately, Bob Gainey’s wish list for the team could not depend on only one player.
On a brighter side, the support given to Kovalev during those times has hopefully shown the other and sweeter side of Montreal fans.
The Montreal Canadiens Organization decided to give Kovalev's fan base another one of those we-think-of-you gifts; keeping the “Kovalev 27” as it is ... for now.
Source: Habs Inside/Out