Kostitsyn in Bulldog house

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

HAMILTON -- Sergei Kostitsyn doesn't look in his mirror and see a minor leaguer.

He was back skating for a second day with the American Hockey League's Hamilton Bulldogs yesterday, but is standing by his trade demand.

The forward wants Montreal Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey to move him if the organization doesn't plan to use him in Montreal.

"I'm an NHL player," he said after practice at Copps Coliseum. "I've played (108) games in the NHL. That's where I should be."

That isn't where he is after ending a week-long club suspension by reporting to the Bulldogs.

"I stayed in Montreal (during the hiatus)," he said. "I worked out with my personal trainer. All off-ice stuff."

He views this latest Hamilton assignment as a "day-to-day" deal.

"I'm playing," he said of Hamilton's home opener tomorrow night against the Rockford IceHogs. "After that, I don't know."

The 22-year-old from Belarus believes he could play in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League.

"There's interest. I have options, but I don't want to play in the KHL," Kostitsyn said. "I want to play in the NHL."

If he's moved, he would no longer play in the same organization as his big brother.

"I love playing with Andrei," Sergei said. "I don't know (if the most recent demotion stems from a sour relationship with new Habs coach Jacques Martin). You have to ask him."

Hamilton head coach Guy Boucher said Kostitsyn comes to his current assignment with a clean slate.

"I start at zero with every player," Boucher said. "Sergei wants to be in the NHL and he's not there now. But it makes no sense thinking about why he isn't there. You have to get to the how he will get back there and work on that.

"He has to show intensity every day. He has to do the things here they want him to do in Montreal.

"In practice, he has shown that. He has the talent to do it."

This is the third straight year Kostitsyn has spent time in Hamilton. Last season, he was sent down after he and his brother made headlines in news reports that linked them to an alleged drug dealer.

Kostitsyn had five goals and 13 points in 16 AHL games last year. In 2007-08, he had six goals and 22 points in 22 games. He has 17 goals, 50 points and 115 penalty minutes in his NHL career.

He came to North America in 2005 to take his best shot at a pro career and played two seasons with the London Knights.

His linemates over those two junior seasons -- Pat Kane (Chicago), Sam Gagner (Edmonton), David Bolland (Chicago) and Rob Schremp (Islanders) are all currently on NHL rosters.

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca


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