Chatting with Sergei Kostitsyn about demotion, trade request

A lot has been written about Sergei Kostitsyn(notes) lately, as the Montreal Canadiens sent the 22-year-old winger to AHL Hamilton, he refused to report and was suspended by the team.

Kostitsyn, however, hasn't said much about the situation. I spoke with him yesterday about it, and asked him about what he believes is his future in the NHL.

"I think I will be traded. I am going to wait until the end of the week, and then we'll see," he said. "I was told I would be traded, and that is what I am hoping for. I am not thinking about anything else."

Coming up, Sergei Kostitsyn talks about the factors behind his demotion to the AHL; how he and his agent handled the stunning news; and whether or not last year's media scandal involving him and his brother Andrei Kostitsyn(notes) had anything to do with it.

Q. At the end of a season coaches usually have meetings with players to talk about future plans. Did you have one at the end of last season? And what did the coach tell you?

S. KOSTITSYN: No, I didn't have such a meeting. I had a surgery and it just didn't happen. Moreover, we didn't even have a coach at the end of last season because [Guy] Carbonneau was let go, and we had Bob Gainey behind the bench.

What is your relationship like with Bob Gainey? Did you have a meeting with him before the start of this season to discuss what expectations he had for you?

We have a good working relationship with him. Well, we met a few times during the summer when I came to Montreal for the surgery and to check on my shoulder, the coach told me: 'Get ready. We have a spot for you. You will play.' And I got ready.

You were told you'd definitely have a spot?

Well, I wasn't told I'd be on the first or second line, but I was told that there was a spot on the team for me and that I should get ready for the season. This is how it was.

And then you were informed that you'd be sent to the AHL.

Yes. And I can't understand why.

But you refused to report to the AHL.

Yes, I called my agent right away to tell him I wouldn't go there.


Because I know how I can play. I don't know why I was sent there in the first place. I played alright during the pre-season. I don't know why I was sent there, that's why I didn't go.

So, you don't see your future with Montreal anymore?

I don't think so.

What did your agent advise you when you told him you wanted to change teams?

My agent supported me right away, because he understood that I shouldn't be playing for the [farm] club. And they agreed with me that I should be traded right away.

And what were you told at the club when you didn't report to the AHL?

I didn't talk to anyone at the club. My agents spoke with the club and talked about a trade. And it looked like Bob Gainey agreed to it.

Do you know of any teams that are interested in you? Did your agent talk with anyone?

I will talk to my agent in the coming days. I think my agent spoke with some teams. I don't know yet. He hasn't told me anything.

Do you want to stay in the Eastern Conference?

I really don't care. The most important for me is to play. Of course there are teams that I like, but it's not like I am choosing when there is a trade. But I am not going to name them. I just want to play in the NHL.

Do you think maybe there is your fault in being sent to the AHL? Maybe you didn't work hard enough? Or other reasons?

I have absolutely no idea. It looked like I played alright during the pre-season. Initially I couldn't practice fully because my shoulder was still bothering me and I couldn't have full contact. And then I played in the last two games, I scored a goal. And then I wasn't dressed for the very last game [of the pre-season] and right after that game I was told that I should go to the AHL. I just couldn't understand at all why.

So, in your opinion, you practiced well and approached your duties like a professional should.

Yes, of course.

What are you doing now? Are you keeping yourself in shape?

Yes, of course. I practice on my own. I have a personal coach here with me as well.

Do you think the scandal last season involving you and alleged ties to some criminal somehow affected your game or your relationship with Montreal, or the way you were viewed at the club?

Maybe it did have some effect. I don't know. It is the media writing all of these things. Overall 90 percent of what the press writes is not true. Maybe the club believed them. I don't know.

Did the fact that something untrue was written about you affect you personally? Maybe psychologically?

No, I don't think about it. I don't read what is written. Occasionally someone tells me what is said by the media, but I don't think about it.

But overall you were treated well by Montreal.

Yes, there were absolutely no problems. Everything is alright. I just didn't understand why this all happened. I simply didn't expect it. Otherwise, everything was good.

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