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 Lafleur has harsh words for Canadiens over Kovalev

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Fournstar

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Lafleur has harsh words for Canadiens over Kovalev Empty
PostSubject: Lafleur has harsh words for Canadiens over Kovalev   Lafleur has harsh words for Canadiens over Kovalev EmptyThu Feb 19, 2009 8:01 pm

Lafleur has harsh words for Canadiens over Kovalev
TSN.ca Staff

http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=267802&lid=headline&lpos=topStory_main

Legendary Montreal Canadiens winger Guy Lafleur has come out in support of embattled star Alex Kovalev.

In an interview with the Montreal Gazette, the Hall of Famer said he thinks Kovalev has not been treated fairly by the Canadiens and general manager Bob Gainey.

Kovalev was given two days off to rest while the Canadiens were on a short road swing. On Thursday, RDS reported the forward would be back on the ice with the Canadiens on Friday and might play Saturday versus the Ottawa Senators.

"No player with his talent would accept being humiliated like that," Lafleur told the Gazette. "I don't know what Gainey is trying to prove in front of everybody."

Lafleur spent many seasons as a teammate of Gainey's on the Canadiens in the 70's and 80's, but does not understand the strategy of the general manager in the Kovalev situation.

"I was very surprised," said Lafleur to the Gazette. "I really thought Bob would sit down with him and try to find out the problem, what's going wrong, what he has in his mind."

"Alex's preference was to stay with the team and play, but I could see in his eyes that he agreed with it," said Gainey to the Canadian Press on Wednesday.

Lafleur does not agree with the decision.

"You want to get the best out of your best player," Lafleur explained. "And that's not the way you're going to do it.

"You're talking about a guy who has a lot of talent. To get the best out of him, let him know you need his effort."

The Canadiens legend did not stop there and had some harsh words for Montreal's head coach. Lafleur believes Guy Carbonneau's style is to blame for some of the team's woes.

"Carbonneau is operating like he has four (equal) lines, they play 1-2-3-4 every night. You just can't do it. Even if the fourth line was the best one that night - they have to play to give the others a chance to relax, but your best players, let them play 25, 28 minutes a game if they can," Lafleur told the Gazette.

"(Carbonneau) won't change his style. He should have done that before Christmas, even from the beginning of the season," he explained newspaper. "Give your best players the ice time they need to play well, to get their confidence back, to prove to the organization what they can do."

Lafleur went on to say he does not think the Canadiens will make the playoffs and said it would be "catastrophic" if they missed out in the team's the 100th anniversary.

Having Kovalev back and contributing would go a long way toward getting the Canadiens into the playoffs.

It has been a trying season for Kovalav. After a strong season in 2007/08 (35 goals, 49 assists, plus-18 over 82 games), he has struggled in the current campaign. In his 57 games this season, the 35-year-old has 13 goals and 26 points with an even plus-minus ranking.

There have been reports of friction with teammates, but in an e-mail to TSN's Darren Dreger, Kovalev said that was not the case and he just wants to get back on the ice.

"I don't care what people say about me or write about me," said Kovalev in the email. "I just want to come back and play hard."

There have been other reports that the Canadiens are trying to trade their talented centre, but TSN Insider Bob McKenzie says that is untrue.

"All I can tell you is this," McKenzie said during the first intermission of the Canadiens game against the Capitals on Wednesday night. "When NHL teams are calling the Montreal Canadiens regarding Alex Kovalev, (the Canadiens are saying) he's not available right now. They want to get him back in their lineup and they want to see what the couple of games off is going to do for him."
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