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Report: Ilya Kovalchuk was scratched for being late to a team meeting

Oct 27, 2010, 3:56 PM EDT

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kovalchuk10minutes

Hindsight is 20/20 and let’s face it: coaches are often judged by their results (wins, losses, playoff berths, etc.) rather than the content of their decisions. New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton was heralded as a genius for winning the Super Bowl largely based on a well-timed onside kick, but if it backfired, he probably would have been lampooned by football fans.

New Jersey Devils coach John MacLean made a bold decision to sit Ilya Kovalchuk for a game. It seemed to backfire as the Devils were blown out, but perhaps it sent a message that no player – not even one who makes $100 million – is bigger than the team.

People can debate the merits of MacLean’s choice, but it seems like we can get past the reasoning behind the benching. Larry Brooks of the New York Post clarifies the situation based on “well-placed sources.”

Ilya Kovalchuk was scratched from Saturday night’s game at Prudential Center against the Sabres for being 10 minutes late to the Devils’ morning meeting, The Post has learned.

According to a well-placed source, head coach John MacLean made the decision to scratch the high-profile, $100 million winger without conversing with Kovalchuk. General manager Lou Lamoriello was not consulted by MacLean before Kovalchuk was informed he would not dress for the match.

The decision, rendered without explanation by the notoriously tight-lipped organization, sparked speculation — that somehow evolved into accepted fact — that Kovalchuk missed an entire meeting.

I think we call agree that Kovalchuk went the wrong way: you’d think that the best alarm clocks are the most expensive ones, but actually that’s not true. The oldest, most busted-up alarm clock I own is also my most reliable.

Anyway, the Devils play in San Jose tonight, so we’ll see if the team can start turning things around after an awful 2-6-1 start. Chances are strong that it won’t be all about the decision to make him a healthy scratch, but it’s highly likely that people will look back at it whether the year is a success or a disappointment.

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