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Montreal Canadiens GM Bob Gainey restated the obvious again this morning on CJAD Radio, telling the host that winger Alexei Kovalev(notes) will not be back with Montreal next season.

Just as he did last week during the Free Agent Frenzy, saying "... this would mark the end for Alex with the Canadiens." As he did by virtue of signing free agents Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta(notes) to huge contracts. The next step was probably a squadron of airplanes flying over the city, skywriting bilingual proclamations that Kovalev's done with the Habs; let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Dave Pagnotta of The Fourth Period is on the Kovalev story, so check out his Twitter feed for updates. His potential destinations are tantalizing if his price comes down. Where do you think he fits best?

If nothing else, Gainey's announcement may put an end to the burgeoning "Save Kovy!" cottage industry that's exploded in Montreal in the last week.

It started with online petitions begging for his return to the Habs' captaincy and a rally outside Bell Centre on Sunday attempting to sway Gainey to keeping him. From CTV:

Fans of Montreal Canadiens player Alex Kovalev used the power of the Internet to organize a rally outside of the Bell Centre Sunday afternoon, in the hopes of keeping him in Montreal. Kovalev supporters were at the Bell Centre's Centennial Plaza from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Organizers used the social networking site Facebook to plan the event, and more than 18,000 people have signed so far signed two online petitions in support of "Kovy". On the Facebook page for the event, there are dozens of comments from hockey fans of all stripes. "Kovalev!!! He's a player of the people!" writes Dima Moz.

That's all you got, Kovalev fans? Thousands of people will send 20,000 pounds of nuts to a television network to keep some crappy sci-fi show on the air, and you get 100 people at Bell Centre?

Well, at the very least, we now know that Phoenix Coyotes fans care twice as much about losing their team as Canadiens do about losing Alexei Kovalev, based on the numbers ...

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