Alex Kovalev is coming back to Montreal to play.


Kovalev is scheduled to arrive from Russia tonight as he gets set to tee it up in his annual Kovalev for Kids Golf Tournament, which is being held tomorrow at Golf Saint Rafael in Ile Bizard. Among those on hand for the event, Kovalev’s former Habs’ teammate, Tomas Plekanec.

Kovalev in town brings back memories of his days as a Hab. There were good times, and there were frustrating times. Remember when he brought the house down with his inspirational performance when the All-Star Game was held at the Bell Centre as part of the Canadiens’ 100th anniversary celebration?

Good times.

There was the 2007-2008 season, when he produced 84 points while playing on a line with Plekanec and Andrei Kosktitsyn. More good times. Then there was Bob Gainey’s decision to tell Kovalev to take some time off in 2009, at a time when the enigmatic forward was struggling.

Frustrating times. Too many of them, for too many Habs’ fans.

Whether you loved Alex Kovalev in a Canadiens’ uniform, or hated him, life was never dull when number 27 laced ’em up at the Bell Centre.

Let me be the first to admit that when Kovalev became an unrestricted free agent in July following two mediocre seasons in Ottawa and Pittsburgh, the thought crossed my mind that it might be fun to see Kovalev back in a Montreal uniform for one more kick at the can. To see if Jacques Martin could somehow coax one more 30-goal season out of that stick of his. To see Alex Kovalev get his wish and ride off into the sunset and retire as a member of the Montreal Canadiens.

Call me sentimental, what can I tell you.

Instead, Kovalev returns to Montreal for a whirlwind 24 hours, or so, before he heads back to Russia after signing a two-year deal to play with Atlant Mytischi of the Kontinental Hockey League.

Any way you slice it, Alex Kovalev will be missed.

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