Kovalchuk criticizes coach after healthy scratch: 'It's horrible'

Andrew D. Bernstein / National Hockey League / Getty

Los Angeles Kings winger Ilya Kovalchuk isn't pleased with how head coach Willie Desjardins is using him lately.

Kovalchuk was a healthy scratch for the second time in three games on Thursday against the San Jose Sharks, with Desjardins opting to dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

The veteran sniper doesn't support that idea, and he didn't enjoy sitting in the press box.

"It's horrible," Kovalchuk said, according to The Athletic's Lisa Dillman. "That's the worst. But he (Desjardins) didn't play young guys. He plays 7 D. That's his new strategy.

"What you can do? That's his decision and he's the head coach - 10 more games. What else we can do. Just practice hard and show the young kids that thing can happen to anybody. You just have to keep going."

Kovalchuk returned to North America last summer on a three-year $18.75 million contract with the Kings after a five-season stint in the KHL. He was brought in to help bolster Los Angeles' offense, but the season hasn't gone according to plan.

The Kings started the season 4-8-1 and fired John Stevens before naming Desjardins interim head coach. Under Desjardins, the club is 22-31-7 and sits last in the Western Conference with 60 points.

"After Willie came here, I don’t have a chance. I play five, six minutes a game," Kovalchuk said.

"A few games I play with Kopi (captain Anze Koptiar)," Kovalchuk said. "We did well. We score all five games and then he (Desjardins) decide to change and I never play again, much. That’s the way he sees the situation."

Kovalchuk has appeared in 60 of the Kings' 73 games in 2018-19, registering 14 goals and 17 assists. Despite recent difficulties, the 35-year-old doesn't appear to regret choosing to play in the Golden State.

"That's what is good about California," he said. "Every day, almost every day, the sun's up. It's easier to go through those kind of stretches in your career. When you're in some city when it's raining, snowing every second day, then it's pretty tough."

Kovalchuk criticizes coach after healthy scratch: 'It's horrible'
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