Ilya Kovalchuk looked sharp in a dark blue suit and loafers without socks when he appeared outside of the Kings’ locker room after a recent game.
The Kings played the Florida Panthers, a team that Kovalchuk feasted on early in his career with 35 goals, his second-most against any opponent. But Kovalchuk didn’t play that night, and it wasn’t because of injury.
Kovalchuk has not played in two of the past three games because of a coach’s decision by Willie Desjardins, and Kovalchuk’s short response to that Friday summed up a long season.
“It’s horrible,” he said.
“After Willie came here, I don’t have a chance,” Kovalchuk said. “I play five, six minutes a game. A few games I play with Kopi. We did well. We score all five games, but then he decided to change and I never play again much. That’s the way he sees the situation. He’s the head coach and he’s responsible for results.”
Kovalchuk hasn’t changed his thinking about staying with the team that signed him to a three-year, $18.75 million contract. “No, I’m not like that,” he said. His wife and four children have settled in the area and he’s willing to persevere.