“When he plays, he’s very dominant. Other nights, he’s not. We need more consistency, not only from him but from the rest of the team ... I’m more concerned with the teammates. They’re the ones working with him and playing with him and sometimes they don’t know which guy is going to show up.”
Typically, Clouston is known for his fashion faux-pas, however, in this instance, the coach erred by speaking out for Kovalev's teammates. Whether any of the guys within the locker room actually have voiced their displeasure with Kovalev to Clouston is unclear and moot.
As Ken Warren noted for the Ottawa Citizen, Clouston says the Senators have received “about what we expected” since signing him as a free agent in the summer of 2009. “We’re very happy with his games some nights.”
And if that's the case, I have to wonder why only Kovalev is being singled out. And please don't mistake this as some kind of apologist rant that's in defense of Kovalev. It's not. The man is a player who can only be described as a mercenary since he chased the money and term to leave a good situation in Montreal to come to Ottawa. If he has come as advertised, that shouldn't be a strike against Kovalev, that should be a strike against the management (or owner, depending on what you believe) that brought him into town.
Calling him out now is the easy thing to do when the whole team is struggling. He's in the last year of his contract and he has been stigmatized as an enigma.
“There’s nothing I can do about it. I’m not the only one not playing well and he decides to pick me. It’s been happening my whole career. I accept that.”So I don't blame Kovalev for feeling like he's being singled out as the scapegoat. He's only one in a long line of veteran players on this team who have been disappointing.
“I just don’t understand, because sometimes when you start playing well and everything goes well and then starts the brain-picking again. I don’t know why it keeps happening. Why they don’t just let me play the way I can? I don’t know if it’s some kind of jealousy or something else, I have no idea. I’ve been asking that question all my career and it just keeps happening.”
Alexei Kovalev may be Cory Clouston's scapegoat but Cory Clouston better not be Bryan Murray's.
*** Note to Readers:
If someone can take the picture below and edit it to say "The Men Who Stare at Scapegoats" and include pictures of Senators personnel, that'd be ridiculously good of you. Thanks ahead of time.