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KOVALEV REGRETS LEAVING MONTREAL
The Monteal Gazette notes Alex Kovalev met reporters at the Bell Centre on Sunday after taking part in a legends’ game featuring Canadiens alumni and NHL stars from the 1980s and ’90s. He received a warm welcome when he was introduced.
“I liked every second of it,” Kovalev said of his time with the Canadiens.
He experienced some ups and downs, but overall “I really enjoyed it.”
“At this point, you can say I made a bad decision going to Ottawa instead of staying in Montreal (after the 2008-09 season, where he signed a two-year deal with the Senators as a free agent on July 6, 2009),” he said. “Maybe I would still be playing here.”
Kovalev talks about feeling blindsided by how things recently turned out with the Florida Panthers. Read all the quotes.
He also indicates he is considering staying in the game.
“I’m hoping to find a job somewhere in Europe,” he said.
He won’t go to Russia — where there are “worse (hockey) politics than here,” he said.
“I’ll just probably go to Switzerland.”
He also didn’t close the door to other possibilities.
“I’m still kind of recovering from everything happening,” he said. “It kind of came by surprise. Sometimes you’re ready for certain things and you prepare yourself.
“But when it comes (unexpectedly) it’s really hard to swallow and hard to really find yourself and what your next step is and what you’re going to do. It’s definitely not fun and not enjoyable.
“If I find something that I like outside hockey, I’m probably never going to get involved in hockey. I’ll just probably stay away because it’s been really tough last four years. And I need to take a break.”
The same source indicated to CSNNE.com the Bruins had a standing offer of 19-year-old Russian prospect Alex Khokhlachev and a second round pick on the table for Morrow, but the player and Dallas management decided to go with Pittsburgh’s offer instead.
Now the Bruins turn their signs to Jarome Iginla in a very public chase for the Calgary Flames superstar. Indications are Calgary GM Jay Feaster isn’t going to be seriously listening to offers until next week, but the Flames have a decided interest in young Bruins goalie prospect Malcolm Subban as an eventual replacement for the aging Miikka Kiprusoff.
There are a number of other names on Boston’s wide net of wingers possibly available at the deadline including names like Curtis Glencross and Colorado’s David Jones, and it’s only certain that Morrow won’t be one of them.
Q: How difficult was it to make the trade of Brenden Morrow?
Nieuwendyk: Well, you know we’re friends and we’ve both talked about this and how we wanted to handle this, so it went well. It’s never easy to do something like this, and I don’t think you realize how hard it’s going to be until you actually do it, but my goal was to do the right thing for the franchise and do the right thing for Brenden, and I think this accomplishes both.
Q: Could this trade be a good thing for Brenden Morrow? He’s going to a team where he knows players, where he could compete for a Stanley Cup and where he can possibly push up his value as a free agent in the summer.
Nieuwendyk: Yes, all of those things. I’m proud to say that watching the game last night, Brenden battled his hardest all the way until the last game he played for us, and I expect Pittsburgh is going to see the same thing. This gives him a chance to play with some great players, to possibly elevate his game, and as you say, enhance his free agent value. I think it’s a great opportunity for him.
Q: You’ve had to part with some good friends an franchise icons in Morrow, Mike Modano, Marty Turco and Sergei Zubov. How difficult has that been?
Nieuwendyk: The biggest thing I try to do is have honesty and integrity with them, and I think that’s the only way to handle these things. That’s what I did with Brenden, and that’s what I tried to do with all of them. I want to be true to my words. I think they know it’s a tough job and I have to make tough decisions, and in the end I have to do what I think is best for the franchise.
PAVELEC OFFERS UP FREE TICKETS
The Winnipeg Sun passes along that Lance Cartwright, who works security at Whiskey Dix nightclub, has become acquainted with a number of the Jets, including Ondrej Pavelec. The goaltender from the Czech Republic offered to get him Jets tickets if he ever needed. Cartwright appreciated the gesture but didn’t feel comfortable in taking Pavelec up on the offer.
When Cartwright isn’t working as a bouncer or training for a mixed martial arts fight, he works with children, adolescents and adults with disabilities.
He was recently watching the Jets on TV and wished some of his mentally challenged clients could experience the thrill of a game at MTS Centre.
“They’re all on subsidized living and could never afford to go to a game,” Cartwright said. “So I phoned Ondrej Pavelec and told him my story — that I wanted these people to be able to experience a game.”
Pavelec quickly responded, arranging for Cartwright and another support worker to take four clients to last Thursday’s game against Washington.
“I know there were a lot of people who thought negatively about NHL players during the lockout, but here we’ve got a goalie from another country — he has no friends or family here — and he’s making sure that some individuals with disabilities that he’s never met are going to be able to watch a Jet game,” Cartwright said.
NEW AEG EXEC LOVES KINGS
The Los Angeles Times details how 43-year-old Dan Beckerman came to become chief executive and president of AEG March 14 and he reaffirmed AEG’s commitment to the Kings and Galaxy, saying that fans who wonder how the changes will affect the teams they love should know “they’re the teams I love.”
Beckerman said nothing will change in AEG’s dealings with Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi and Galaxy GM/Coach Bruce Arena and that the goal remains for each team to repeat as champion of its respective league.
“We have a lot invested in those and they’re valuable, valuable assets for AEG. They’re iconic brands and they’re the cornerstones of this company.”
“And for me personally, I started with the Kings and the second thing I had was the Galaxy. So you can look behind me and see the greatest accomplishments of my career and the happiest moments that I’ve had are with the Kings and the Galaxy and winning those championships. My job is to support those guys and give them the resources they need to be successful and they obviously have been successful.”
Davidson, 60, has been there before. When he arrived in St. Louis, the Blues had also finished last in the league, their 25 consecutive playoff appearances a distant memory. After several rough years, the Blues blossomed last season, finishing second in the Western Conference.
“Having experienced it, I know what I have to do,” said Davidson, the Blue Jackets’ president for hockey operations, a newly created position. “This city is starving for a good team.”
Davidson is doing his best to rebrand the team. Relentlessly upbeat and friendly, he has met fans, business leaders and sponsors since arriving in October. He promised fans that the team would not be outworked, a goal that plays well in a blue-collar state like Ohio.
Aware of the team’s history with signing stars, he has also urged caution and vowed to build the team “one brick at a time” using draft picks, not splashy free agents.
“In this league, you can get a quick fix, but you’re not going to build a foundation,” Davidson said. “We have a ways to go, but we’re going to get it done.”
Today Setoguchi’s 11 goals rank second on the team to Zach Parise’s 12, he has two game-winners, he’s a plus-12 in his past 15 games and he has 11 goals and seven assists in his past 20 games.
The line of Matt Cullen, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Setoguchi has combined for seven goals and 12 assists over the past five games, all victories.
While Setoguchi’s 11 goals since Feb. 9 rank behind only five others in the NHL, the opinion of coach Mike Yeo is that when Setoguchi turned up the intensity of his physical play, his scoring went right along with it. A year ago, Setoguchi issued 73 hits in 69 games; this season he has 55 hits in 30 games.
“He’s been more physical,” Yeo said, “and even when he doesn’t score, he’s playing good hockey. When you do that, you give yourself a good chance. He’s playing both ends of the ice, and when you do that, it leads to more chances.”
But in the absence of goals, Frolik’s been strong in other aspects of his game. And that will give him a crack at the Blackhawks’ top line.
Marian Hossa (upper body) is likely out Monday against the Los Angeles Kings, so Frolik will get the chance to play with Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad. It’s a choice opportunity for Frolik, whose defensive work has been strong all season. Coach Joel Quenneville said he’s earned the chance.
“He’s been good,” he said. “His play, overall, has been very consistent. He doesn’t have the production to reflect how well he’s been playing. Penalty killing, 5-on-5 — that line on that last trip was very efficient — the finish is the one area where it’d be nice if he were a little more patient, comfortable. He’s going to get some higher-quality opportunities. Don’t force it. But if you’re in the offensive areas, cash in.”