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Canadiens fans welcome Kotkaniemi back to Montreal with boos, vulgar chant

·2 min read
Carolina Hurricanes forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi (82) was not welcomed back to Montreal with open arms. (Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)
Carolina Hurricanes forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi (82) was not welcomed back to Montreal with open arms. (Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)

The Carolina Hurricanes were in Montreal on Thursday night to face the Canadiens at the Bell Centre, marking the return of Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who was at the centre of petty off-season drama after signing an offer sheet with the Canes.

In true hockey fashion, the Bell Centre crowd greeted the 21-year-old with boos and taunting chants.

The Canadiens acknowledged the former third-overall pick by displaying him on the jumbotron, which in turn sparked another wave of disapproval from the near-sellout crowd.

It was Kotkaniemi who got the last laugh, though, tipping in a goal in the third period for his first point with the Hurricanes — much to the delight of Hockey Twitter. Carolina ended up walking away with the 4-1 victory, keeping Montreal winless on the season.

The native of Pori, Finland appeared in 171 games for the Habs over three seasons, scoring 22 goals and notching 40 assists. He also registered 12 points in 29 playoff games, including five goals in Montreal’s run to the Stanley Cup Final last season.

Carolina tendered an offer sheet to Kotkaniemi in late August, offering a one-year contract at $6.1 million. Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin chose not to match, and Montreal received a first- and third-round pick as compensation.

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