Alex Kovalev returned to his team today, taking part in a spirited practice in Brossard.
Christinne Muschi, Reuters
From The Gazette’s Randy Phillips, in Brossard:
Forward Alex Kovalev will be back on the ice when the Canadiens face the Ottawa Senators Saturday afternoon at the Bell Centre.
Kovalev rejoined his teammates in practice today after a two-day forced hiatus by Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey.
“I feel great. Two days off never hurt,” said Kovalev, who was the last to leave the ice at the team’s practice facility after a brisk 90-minute workout in Brossard.
“It was a pretty tough two days, but in the end it ended up being good days."
Gainey ordered to Kovalev to stay home while the team completed its longest road trip of the season because on an obvious drop in offensive production. He has 13 goals and 39 points this season, the final one of a four-year contract that pays him $4.5 million this season. He had 84 points last season.
Gainey met with Kovalev twice in recent days to listen to the player’s ideas on how the season was going, how he felt he was playing, what his difficulties had been and offering some solutions and opinions.
“He initially wasn’t in agreement with me about taking a break away from the team,” said Gainey. “But as 24 and 48 hours passed, he gave me a different message and was that he really did need a chance to gather himself both physically and mentally and that the break has been really good for him.”
“I’m happy to be back and everybody will be happy if we start winning tomorrow,” Kovalev said.
Kovalev returned as more controversy swirled around the team and organization following a published report yesterday that a Montreal police investigation focused on organized crime alleged the Kostitsyn brothers, Andrei and Sergei,and defenceman Roman Hamrlik, were involved with Pasquale Mangiola, who faces drug trafficking and illegal weapons charges following his arrest in Operation Axe conducted by police last week.
Players were not permitted to speak to reporters about what was published and while Kovalev was the only player to meet the media, he was only allowed to field any questions about his return to the club.