Tuesday’s Take: Benching Ilya Kovalchuk

Over the weekend a lot of publicity followed the benching of Ilya Kovalchuk of the New Jersey Devils which made me wonder, benching Kovalchuk, good or bad?

The background: none actually. Head coach John Maclean would not disclose any rationale for his decision while Kovalchuk also failed to share any details. You begin to wonder if there really was a reason?

Of course there is a reason, what that is specifically is not known, but with a record of 2-6-1 in 9 games, last place in the Eastern Conference, perhaps it was to spark the team.

Put on the breaks though coach Maclean. Your team has only won 2 games in 9 played and you bench Kovalchuk who has a team leading 6 points? Kovalchuk has 3 goals and 3 assists, one of which was a game winner. Could it be because of Kovalchuk’s -3 rating? With 7 other players with a worse rating, I would hope not, otherwise half the team is going to be benched. Sure Kovalchuk may not be the best back checker, but the guy puts pucks in the net, which your team needs. Why not bench goaltender Martin Brodeur for his 2-5-1 record? Probably because Brodeur is a major role in the success of your team, which like it or not, Kovalchuk is now as well.

Ending notes, I think the benching of Kovalchuk over the weekend was a bad idea. The team is off to a slow start which happens, but they can turn it around. Benching your star player, or shall I say your new franchise player, is a horrible call. What might have been an effort to rally the troops has now turned into another distraction, much like the whole signing of Kovalchuk in the off-season, much of which the team does not need anymore; distractions.

Let the boys play Maclean and let them find their chemistry. Once they do, they will be pushing for the top seed in the Atlantic Division. If you choose not to let them though, mark my words, your coaching job will be gone before you even unpacked your bags and got settled.


  1. This has nothing to do with Kovalchuk, but it is my
    “Tuesday Take”: I was flipping thru channels last night and saw that the Versus matchup was LA- Minnesota.

    Gee, I like hockey, but the pickings would have to be really, really, really, slim for me to watch that one. That was the best matchup Versus could come up with?????

  2. Funny you mentioned that Tony as I was debating between my Tuesday’s Take to address the Minnesota Wild but decided against. We have some, rather, passionate Wild fans for readers that disliked my Season Preview. I’m still waiting for one of them to take me up on my offer of a written apology if they make the playoffs… like that is going to happen.

    Have no fear Tony, tonight on Versus Buffalo and Philly face-off. That will be one worth watching.

  3. You prefer Versus to broadcast some form of Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin? Granted, it would have been more exciting to see a contender play last night, but you have to give some credit to Versus for attempting to branch out and give time to some of the other teams in markets that don’t have an Alexander or Sidney.

    I heard a rumor that Kovalchuk was benched in an effort to get the rest of the team to start playing hard and pulling their weight instead of waiting for Kovalchuk to carry the load and win games for them. Parise only has 4 points and Elias, who had 48 points and a plus-18 in only 58 games with the Devils last season, is a mighty minus-8 with one goal and three assists. The rest of this team needs to get going and can’t rely on Kovi to carry the offense and win games for them. If that was the case for the benching, to spark the rest of the team, then I say it was a good move.

  4. Good point, Chris……but a Buffalo-Philly matchup is
    much more inviting.

    Speaking of inviting matchups……EB must be positively
    giddy tonite with his Coyotes at the Joe to take on the Wings. He’s probably at the game……

  5. Yep, Matt, Eddie and I were at the game last night. Contrary to popular belief, I was rooting for the Wings last night. Maybe I jinxed them, maybe Ozzy let a few weak ones in, take your pick.

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