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Samsonov looks for trade after benching by Canadiens for a second game

Samsonov, the team's main off-season signing, was listed as a healthy scratch for a second game in a row for Montreal's meeting with the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.

"Being scratched two games in a row, you're getting a clear answer that you're a problem, so maybe it's the best solution for both parties," Samsonov said after a team skate Tuesday morning.

"At this point, I guess you have to ask yourself that."

Samsonov's Boston-based agent Neil Abbott said Samsonov had played well of late and was being blamed unfairly for the team's inconsistent performance in the past month.

Samsonov, a 20-goal scorer through most of his nine-year NHL career, signed a two-year US$7.05 million contract as a free agent last summer. He has only seven goals and 15 assists in 52 games. He was also scratched for a Jan. 16 game.

Coach Guy Carbonneau said that if Samsonov asks for a trade it may affect how much he is used in future.

"Obviously, I want players who want to play here," said Carbonneau.

"I look at what players do on the ice. At the time, I felt the players on the ice would help us win more."

The coach said he does not see Samsonov's situation as a distraction for the team, but admitted that, "it's not easy for anyone."

"It's not easy for Sergei or the team and it's not easy for me, either," he added. "You think I like it?

"I'd rather have Sergei in my lineup with 15 goals and playing well. Those are the decisions I'm paid to make. I had to feel that I put 20 guys on the ice that can win."

Samsonov, drafted eighth overall in 1997 by Boston, had seasons of 29 goals in 2000-01 and 2001-02. He was traded to Edmonton last March 9 for the playoff drive.

The Moscow native has struggled in Montreal. He had only one goal in his last 22 games, although he had two assists in a loss in Pittsburgh last week and his plus-minus is even on a team with many top scoring forwards in minus figures.



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