For any of you wiseacres out there who might interpret Andrei Kostitsyn's recent form as a suggestion he's trying to play his way out of town, know this: "I want to stay," he said on Thursday.
The Belarusian power forward, who has 12 goals and 12 assists to show for 51 games, addressed the rumours that have him going to Nashville to rejoin his little brother Sergei - "Don't want to go to Nashville. Want to stay."
In fact Kostitsyn, who earlier this season said he's be willing to take a pay cut to remain a Hab, repeated his desire to stay no fewer than a half-dozen times.
That may not quell the speculation concerning the underachieving Kostitsyn, who is to become an unrestricted free agent in July, and could have some value next Monday to a team looking for secondary scoring.
The Habs hit the road after practice on Thursday - highlight of the session: a minor outburst of handbags-at-twenty-paces between defenceman P.K. Subban and centre David Desharnais - and it's not known how many of the current roster will still be with the team when it returns after next Monday's trade deadline.
Reports in New York have linked defenceman Chris Campoli with the Rangers and Devils, and free-agent-to-be Travis Moen is also garnering wide interest, although there are reports the Habs are interested in trying to re-sign him.
Coach Randy Cunneyworth said it's impossible for players to completely tune out the speculation, "some guys may want to leave, others hope they don't . . . everybody is different, but the focus has to be on the next game," he said. "The job is to play hard no matter what your intentions are or what the team's intentions are."