Alex Kovalev wears a Bob Gainey jersey during pregame warmup on Feb. 23, 2008, the night Gainey’s number was retired by the Canadiens.
Phillip MacCallum, Getty Images
The popular story about Alex Kovalev’s negotiations with the Canadiens claims that the Russian forward’s career in Montreal evaporated on July 1 when he failed to reply to a contract offer extended by GM Bob Gainey.
But a Gazette source close to the negotiations suggests that Kovalev did indeed reply that afternoon, to an offer Gainey had increased a few hours earlier to two years and $10 million from the original two years, $9 million he’d offered two days before the Canada Day free-agency kickoff.
It seems it was the Canadiens who did not then reply to Kovalev’s request to tweak the second offer, Gainey using his afternoon to sign free agents Mike Cammelleri and Brian Gionta, which sent Kovalev packing when the salary cap proved too tight. Kovalev signed a deal Monday with the Ottawa Senators for the same two years and $10 million the Canadiens had offered.