Ex-Devil Holik blames Kovalchuk contract for team's woes Staff

11/2/2010 8:32:42 PM

There's a mess in the Garden State, and it has more to do with the mega contract the Devils doled out to Ilya Kovalchuk in the offseason than it does with their head coach John MacLean.

At least that's what Bobby Holik believes. In an interview on Off The Record, the recently retired 18-year NHL veteran, who played 11 of those seasons in New Jersey, said he doesn't believe MacLean is all to blame for the team's woeful start.

"I think he's in a very tough spot," Holik said. "Maybe I called for some coaches to be fired from the past. I would not … not comment on (if I would fire him). He was put in a tough spot by management signing Ilya Kovalchuk for such a long term deal."

After Monday's 3-0 loss to Vancouver, the Devils sit dead last in the NHL with just seven points on the season. They have won just three of 13 games this year.

Kovalchuk has just three goals and three assists so far this season, and he was a healthy scratch on Oct. 23 against Buffalo. Kovalchuk signed a 15-year contract with the Devils this offseason for $100 million.

Holik also doesn't think longtime Devils' GM Lou Lamoriello - who won two Stanley Cups with Holik on the roster - would make such a long-term commitment to a player.

"I don't know if it was all Lou's doing, times (are) changing … he may have a little less say about what direction the organization is going," Holik told Off The Record.  "And obviously they are trying ... they are still in the process of going in a different direction."

In a recent radio interview, Holik ripped Kovalchuk after he was late for a meeting with the Devils, and questioned why New Jersey would commit itself to such a contract for the Russian winger.