So, there you were, going about your day on Tuesday. Not much was happening in the SoCal hockey world, things were lining up for what should have been a sleepy, mid-week game between the Kings and visiting Minnesota Wild. Not so fast, though. Like tectonic plates shifting below the Los Angeles basin, a series of LA Kings roster moves and decisions actually began the day before a tweet from Canada exploded like a volcanic blast from Mount St. Helens. Take a look…
Monday, November 11 at 2pm PST
– Trevor Lewis is placed on IR.
– Matt Luff is woken up with a phone call, saying he’s been called up to the NHL.
Luff told me he found out about the call-up yesterday. They had gotten back from Iowa and he was taking a nap.
"I was pretty tired. I was up early and we had a pretty long travel day. but to get that call it's always special and to find out I was playing today was pretty cool."
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) November 13, 2019
– Upon checking in with our sources, we are told the Kings want to get Luff some NHL playing time while Lewis is on IR. They like what they’ve seen from Luff in Ontario of late (beyond his 10 points in 13 games), and this was later communicated by coach Todd McLellan following the team’s win over Minnesota.
McLellan on Matt Luff – We saw a better Luff than we did in camp. He was big, strong along the boards. He has a great shot, didn't see it tonight. But he can be effective player without scoring some nights. In camp, I think he thought he had to score all the time.
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) November 13, 2019
Tuesday, November 12 at 10am PST
– (We discuss this nugget in greater detail on Kings of the Podcast, Episode 12) We’re told the Kings aren’t ready to make any final decisions on Nikolai Prokhorkin just yet, they want him to get a few more NHL games in first. Again, combined with the Luff news, the lineup picture is starting to come into focus.
Tuesday, November 12 at 11am PST
– Adrian Kempe is still on the ice after Kings practice wraps up, indicating he will most likely be a healthy scratch, replaced by Prokhorkin.
Tuesday, November 12 at 3:15pm PST
– The moment when twitter notifications became alarm bells on cellphones around LA…
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
Tuesday, November 12 at 4:13pm PST
– An hour later, Dave Pagnotta of The Fourth Period weighed in…
Kings have indeed been trying to move Kovalchuk recently, and I'm told his agent is assisting in trying to facilitate a trade. Kovalchuk has a full NMC, so he'll have a say in where he waives it to, if a trade can be figured out.
— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) November 13, 2019
Tuesday, November 12 at 6:45pm PST
– Rob Blake addresses a small group of reporters inside the Kings management suite on the press level at Staples Center. The conversation was rather brief…
Blake on what led to this decision – “He’s a healthy scratch, the same as Adrian Kempe. The reason we didn’t say anything today is because we have a game to play, but he’s a healthy scratch.”
Blake on if he’s denying the other aspect of Friedman’s report – “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 on if he can confirm he met with Kovalchuk earlier in the day – “Yes, and I usually do with people who are out of the lineup. It’s hard taking players out. They’re difficult decisions, they’re difficult conversations. But yes, I did.”
Blake on what was discussed with Kovalchuk – “Well, we’re in last place, right? So, we’ve changed a lot of 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, we’ll see; but it happens.”
Last season, it had been said that Blake was letting then-coach Willie Desjardins make lineup decisions. We asked Blake about his conversations with McLellan this year and how much of this Kovalchuk decision was coming from the GM vs. the coach – “I talk to Todd on a daily basis. I know what the lineup is going in. So, it’s communication between both of us… We’re trying to find combinations that work and trying 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. [Dennis Bernstein: But he has not asked you for a trade?] No, and like I said, he has a no-move for a reason.”
Tuesday, November 12 at 10:25pm PST
Kovalchuk related quotes from McLellan’s postgame presser, following a 3-1 win over the Wild…
McLellan on Kovalchuk’s status – “Healthy scratch, and tomorrow’s a new day.”
McLellan on if there was any punitive element to scratching him – “No, not at all. He’s a healthy scratch, and tomorrow’s Wednesday, away we go.”
More McLellan, including how Kovalchuk responded to the news – “Fine. No problem… Kovy’s on board, and just like the rest of the players he’ll get his opportunity to come back in. We have to treat him like any other player, and if Toffoli and Kempe and others that maybe haven’t had really good games have had to come out and watch one, and we treat everyone the same.
Tuesday, November 12 at 11:24pm PST
More tomorrow on @kingsofthepod Episode 12 but short version.
Spoke w Kings captain Anze Kopitar about circumstances around Ilya Kovalchuk scratch.
Vouches for player character – well liked teammate, has not created any locker room issues despite his troubles finding ice time.
— Dennis Bernstein (@DennisTFP) November 13, 2019
And now we wait.
Kings of the Podcast, Episode 12 – Unpacking the Kovalchuk Situation
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