NEWARK, N.J. -- What in the world is going on with the Devils? And I'm not talking their 0-4-1 home record or complete no-show in Saturdays' 6-1 loss to the Sabres.
Coach John MacLean must want to see the unemployment line quickly in his first month on the job. I don't care what Ilya Kovalchuk did. When you're a $100 million guy, you can't be a healthy scratch. A rookie head coach, even a popular ex-player like MacLean, won't ever win that battle.
Said MacLean: "It's between him and I. It was my decision. I take responsibility for all my decisions."
I asked MacLean if it was a non-hockey issue (like maybe Kovalchuk showed up late for the game). He wouldn't go there. Simply said it was his decision and that Kovalchuk "knows where I'm going with this."
He wouldn't even say if Kovalchuk would play today against the Rangers. Devils beat writers were told that GM Lou Lamoriello was unavailable. Hmmm. After what this team went through all summer to finally get Kovalchuk, this happens eight games into the season? And how about the fans who paid good money to see this star player and then see him get sit down for no apparent reason with no explanation?
It's not like the Devils didn't know Kovalchuk doesn't play a lick of defense and likes to stay on the ice for a minute or more at a time. But they wanted him to fill seats in this beautiful but often-empty arena in the NHL's newest hinterland. Stay tuned. Things are really heating up here in this tropical paradise.