Zenon Konopka, the Islanders' gritty fourth-liner who leads the league in penalty minutes, isn't easily rattled. But the 30-year-old center was upset today when he felt like his comments to a Montreal reporter were taken out of context.
The article, published on NHL.com this afternoon said Konopka would "love" to fulfill the tough guy role in Montreal if the Habs were to make a trade for him. The article also quoted Konopka as saying that "every player wants to play for Montreal at some point in their career."
Konopka told Newsday that he respects Montreal as a great city and a great organization, but wanted to make one thing clear that he felt was omitted: He wants to remain an Islander.
"I want to make it evident that my first priority is to stay here," Konopka said. "I want to stay here, I like it here. I like the guys, I like the city and I get treated really well here. And I see where the team is going. I want to be part of that future."
"100% I want to stay here," he reiterated. "I want to sign a long-term extension in New York. Those are my true feelings."
With his meat-and-potatoes, throwback style of play, high percentage from the faceoff circle and modest price tag, Konopka has been one of the oft-discussed players with the NHL's trade deadline approaching. And with the Canadiens--who were bullied and bloodied by the Bruins last night--in dire need of some toughness, Konopka was peppered with questions about a potential trade to Montreal.
"For me, they can talk all they want as long as the core people and our core fans understand I want to stay here. Around this time I understand there are going to be a lot of rumors flying around, and I understand it's a business and that part of the business I can't control. But I can control my feelings and my thoughts on the future, and those are Long Island-based."