Kovy and Coach Offer No Explanation for Benching


Written on 10/24/2010 by Jim Cerny

Not that they are obligated to at all, but neither Devils coach John Maclean nor New Jersey's $100 million superstar Ilya Kovalchuk offered up any explanations as to why Kovy was a healthy scratch last night, when each met with the media prior to this evening's contest with the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

The media, of course, IS obligated to ask why, if for no other reason than to avoid rumor, innuendo, and speculation.

But no answers were forthcoming, both coach and player instead looking to shove this sideshow, well, to the side, or at best, out of sight completely.

Not likely to happen any time soon, even if Kovy goes off on an offensive tear. And certainly it will be an even bigger story if the talented Russian shows any signs of sulking, or displays any anger towards the rookie bench boss.

"It was the coach's decision to give me a little rest, that's all," was Kovalchuk's laughable explanation as to why he was benched in a game the Devils eventually lost in embarrasing 6-1 fashion to the Sabres last night.

When asked if he sat because of an off-ice issue, Kovy answered with a quick and stern, "No Comment!"

The rumor floating around the Devils is that Kovy either missed, or was late to, a team meeting. If that is the case, then it would seem Maclean is more than justified in making his best, and highest-paid, player an example for his underachieving club.

So why not say so? Again, internal team issues are internal team issues, and the Devils are an extremely conservative organization to boot, so I'm not saying their approach is the wrong one here, but it certainly won't make this story go away any time soon, which has to make Lou Lamoriello et al extremely uncomfortable.

"The issue is over, and like I said yesterday it's an internal matter," said Maclean, whose team is 2-5-1 on the season and winless in five home games (0-4-1).

Maclean said that "we talked" earlier today and that "I stand by my decision."

Perhaps most important was the news that Kovalchuk will be back in the lineup this evening. Wouldn't be shocked to see him light the lamp 3 or 4 times, or see him pull an absolute no-show. It will clearly be the most interesting subplot to this game.

"Today is a new game, a new day," said Maclean. "The most important game is always the one you play today."

"That's his decision and it's going to stay between me and him," added Kovy. "I'm just a player and I am going to show up tonight to play."

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