LA Kings General Manager Rob Blake met with members of the media at the start of warm-ups prior to Tuesday’s game against the Minnesota Wild, which followed Elliotte Friedman’s afternoon report that the team had informed Ilya Kovalchuk of an intent to withhold him from the lineup “for the foreseeable future.”
There is word this afternoon that LA has informed Ilya Kovalchuk he will be out of the lineup for the foreseeable future. He is welcome to practice with the club, but he will not be playing. Obviously, more details as they occur.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) November 12, 2019
Basically, the thrust of what Blake shared was that he’s a healthy scratch, a term he repeatedly used in describing what appears to be a complex situation. A healthy scratch, as in, “the same as Adrian Kempe. The reason we didn’t say anything today is because we’ve got a game today.”
Asked whether he denied the longer-term part of the report, Blake reiterated his initial answer. “He’s a healthy scratch. He’s being treated as a healthy scratch.”
“I don’t know what the lineup is Thursday, I don’t know what the lineup is on Saturday. I know the lineup tonight. He’s a healthy scratch. Unfortunately, everybody knows before warm-ups.”
Blake said he’d met with Kovalchuk and that he usually does with players he takes out of the lineup. “It’s hard taking players out. They’re difficult decisions, they’re difficult conversations. But yes, I did.”
Kovalchuk has three goals, nine points and a minus-10 rating in 17 games, along with a relative possession rate in the red. He’s taken 21 shots and scored two goals in 206:34 of five-on-five time.
“Well, we’re in last place, right? So, we’ve changed a lot of the lineups, we did this with Tyler, we did it with Prokhorkin, we did it with Adrian Kempe tonight. I’m not sure of the D yet, but we’ll see. But it happens,” Blake said.
There’s obviously something more complex in play here, but before anything else is said, Elliotte Friedman is among the smallest class of elite NHL insiders. No one’s suggesting his report is inaccurate.
There are complexities well beyond those I am aware of at the moment. And with that said, of what I do know, it is completely plausible to have doubts of the marriage beyond the shorter-term parameters shared before game time. It’s all a bit murky, and we all hope to add a touch more definition to this story soon. More will follow after the game from Todd McLellan. Until then, two final bits from the press conference:
Rob Blake, on an insinuation that he let Willie Desjardins make lineup decisions last season:
Yeah, and I talk to Todd on a daily basis. I know what the lineup is going in. So, it’s communication between both of us. [Reporter: Was it a Todd decision? Was it your decision? A joint decision?] We’re trying to find combinations that work and try to score some goals. We liked the young kids in Montreal. Thought that was a really good line for us, gave us some energy. Adrian’s struggled. We’re trying to find a way to get him going.
Blake, on whether Kovalchuk asked for a trade:
I don’t control that. I have no control over that situation. [Reporter: But he has not asked you for a trade.] No, and like I said, he has a no-move for a reason.