Alex Kovalev made it clear: his first choice was to stay with the Montreal Canadiens.
"I don't really have any options, choices," said Kovalev, the free agent who signed a two-year, $10 million deal with the Senators Monday.
There had been contract discussions with the Habs, but Kovalev said he wasn't given much time to make a decision and before he knew it, the Canadiens had signed Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta as free agents. He was out of the picture even as Canadiens fans demonstrated outside the Bell Centre to show their support for keeping Kovalev in red, white and blue.
"Everything happened so quick. There was not much time to respond and they went in a different direction," he said early this afternoon from Russia in a conference call with reporters.
Kovalev said the primary reason he wanted to remain with the Canadiens was his family. He said he didn't want to uproot his children. His oldest, Nikita, has just finished first grade.
"When you're 19 years old, (changing teams) is easier on you," he said. "The first thing I think about is family. When you move to a new city, you have to start everything over. The way I look at it, I'm disappointed for them. I feel bad for the kids.
"It's hard to accept that things happen in life."
But Kovalev said he believes the Senators are Stanley Cup contenders and winning another Cup is something the 36-year-old wants to do before he calls it a career.
"The way I look at it, they have one really good line that's been successful year after year," said Kovalev. "I think I can be part of creating two or three good lines which is something every team needs to be successful in the playoffs. I'm not a big believer that one line can do the damage all the way to winning the Stanley Cup.
"Maybe I could be in the mix on the first line and maybe sometime in the second line. That way everybody will have enough energy to have a strong season and compete for the Stanley Cup."
Kovalev has said he's heard too often about his inconsistencies as a player.
"I don't know why people think that way all the time. I'll always compete the way I can," he said. "Sometimes you have to be aggressive, sometimes you have to be more relaxed. It depends on the situation. There's a feeling about me I only play when I want to play. I always compete the way I can."
"Sometimes I try to do too much because I feel like I can change the game ... sometimes it works in a good way, sometimes it works in a bad way."