Andrei Kostitsyn could be the most talented offensive player on the Montreal Canadiens. He may have the best shot. What is certain is that he is the most maligned Canadiens’ forward.
Right now, Kostitsyn is struggling. That is not in dispute. But he isn’t alone. Whereas Kostitsyn has played well in games this season, especially against Colorado and Ottawa, others have not. Yet they remain without criticism.
Guillaume Latendresse has had a terrible start to the season, remaining invisible other than during a handful of shifts. Going back to last season, in his last 19 games, Latendresse has one goal and one assist. In the third period of Monday night’s game, RDS ran a set of clips of their golden boy rather than hi-light game stars like Travis Moen or Glen Metropolit. Such is the unfounded praise afforded to the hopes of a ‘nation’.
It sickens me to hear the media on both sides of the language divide use Kostitsyn as a speed bag or a punch line to a joke. It is certainly overzealous. It is probably bigoted. It is mostly inaccurate.
Both Kostitsyn brothers and Roman Hamrlik were the victims of rumours, embellished associations, and shoddy journalism by the Montreal media last season. To date, there has been no public apology for the outrageous accusations made by certain journalists and commentators. Some even continue to defame the three by referencing the false stories.
But back to this season. Many fans and media are ready to write-off Andrei Kostitsyn. This is the same player who has proved he is capable of 25 goal and 50 point seasons. Yet, they are willing to give a free pass to the chosen one who has yet to cross the 30 point threshold.
Some would like nothing better than to see the Kostitsyn brothers shipped off as a package. There is obvious interest from a number of teams. Edmonton Oilers Assistant General Manager Kevin Pendergast has had an extended stay in Montreal over the past few games. Word is that Pendergast had his eyes on Andrei Kostitsyn and that the Oilers may be interested in both Kostitsyn brothers.
Is the situation with Sergei upsetting to Andrei? Undoubtedly so. But when asked, Andrei responded by saying, “It’s tough for me that he left … But I want to focus on my season. I am happy in Montreal.”
The intention of this article is not to absolve Kostitsyn. He is responsible for his play, his attitude and his work ethic. It’s simply to encourage a more balanced assessment of all players regardless of their birthplace.
It is a coach’s responsibility to get the most from his players and to find the best method to motivate each player. A coach with the experience of Martin should have more in his bag of tricks than line juggling. Clearly, Martin has to do better. By all accounts, the Canadiens are short a top six forward. It would be a shame to lose another one.