MORE: Will the NHL ever return to the Olympics?The motivation behind the team’s decision has yet to be revealed but draws reason for concern considering the 13-year veteran’s success and the unusual permission granted to continue practicing with the team. Kovalchuk, 36, was notably scratched last March by then-interim head coach Willie Desjardins, too. It is worth noting that his numbers are front-loaded with six points coming in the first four games of the season.Regardless, for a struggling team to abruptly halt a veteran’s season no matter when the production came makes for an interesting look at what is going on in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Kings have the worst record in the NHL at 5-11-1 and are looking for a plan to gain some momentum.That plan may not include Ilya Kovalchuk, who was reportedly told he would be held out of the lineup for the foreseeable future. “There is word this afternoon that LA has informed Ilya Kovalchuk he will be out of the lineup for the foreseeable future,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said on Twitter Tuesday. “He is welcome to practice with the club, but he will not be playing. Obviously, more details as they occur.”MORE: Don Cherry on firing: ‘I don’t regret a thing'”Kings have indeed been trying to move Kovalchuk recently,” read a tweet from David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, “and I’m told his agent is assisting in trying to facilitate a trade.”Kovalchuk has three goals and six assists through 17 games this season until Tuesday’s contest against the Minnesota Wild, which he will be scratched for. He is the fourth most productive player on the squad in terms of points while seeing significantly less on-ice time than those ahead of him on that list.Through the first 17 games of the season, the Kings’ point leaders are as follows: Anze Kopitar (16), Dustin Brown (10), Drew Doughty (10) and Kovalchuk (9). Those players have earned 20:20, 19:01 and 25:03 TOI compared to Kovalchuk’s 15:25 (11th on the team).
by Malik Vincent For New Pittsburgh Courier Being a lineman isn’t football’s most glamorous job. In fact, it can be grueling.But Will Clarke, a redshirt junior at West Virginia, loves the challenges that his position presents. “You have to learn to be tough out there,” the 6-foot-6, 269 pound Clarke said. “You see those big fullbacks and tight ends out there and they’re about to run in at your throat. You have to be ready to take that on at all times.”He’ll represent West Virginia—a newcomer to the conference– this week at the Big 12 media day in Dallas, TX.“He’s been a great leader for us in the spring,” West Virginia defensive coordinator Joe DeForest said. “We’re looking forward to seeing the hard work that he’s put in over the summer and the progress that he’s made for when fall camp starts up.”DeForest came to WVU from Oklahoma State with current Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen and has moved Clarke from his natural of defensive end position to tackle, this season.“We feel like if his athleticism is applied as an interior lineman, we’ll get some matchups in which (Clarke) will have an advantage,” DeForest added.He started 11 of his 13 games in 2011 for WVU and recorded a sack in their 70-33 romp of Clemson in the Orange Bowl. This year, he wants to further his reputation as a humble leader.“I understand my role on this defense and take great pride in it,” Clarke said. “I want to be able to do the things that people did for me when I was a young player.”Majoring in criminal justice, Clark plans to graduate next spring. With the fifth year of eligibility he earned by redshirting, he plans to begin graduate courses.“Not only is it important for me to achieve on the field, I know I need to show people how it’s done in all aspects,” he added.Jay Barlow, the reigning Courier defensive MVP, is preparing for his first season at Division-II California (PA). He recalled his first day at camp as a freshman in 2008 at Allderdice when he faced Clake, a then-senior, in drills.“He put me flat on my back,” Barlow said. “It was something that I wasn’t used to. I’d always been the best hitter up to that point.”Since, the two have kept in touch and Barlow attributes much of his success to Clarke’s mentorship.“He’s been in my ear the whole time he’s been in college,” he said. “He educates me as to what it’s like and what to watch out for when I get there. But, what’s really special about Will is that he’s always himself. He always remains his true humble self at all times.”Clarke admits that his daily schedule can be a bit overwhelming.“Typically, my days can start as early as 5:30 and can end as late as 10:00pm,” Clarke said. “I wake up that early to be in and out of the gym so that I can be on time for class. After that, there’s usually practice. Not to mention, I must dedicate the necessary time that I need in order to study. I can’t lie, it gets pretty hectic.”Yet, he swears by being a good example.“Doing the right thing is a great motivator for me in dealing with different challenges,” he said.(Malik Vincent can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @malikvincent.) WILL CLARKE