Ottawa Senators forward Alexei Kovalev on Friday spoke with the media for the first time since being demoted to the fourth line earlier this week and told reporters he feels like he is being singled out for the team's struggles.
"It looks like it right now," Kovalev was quoted as saying in The Ottawa Sun. "There’s nothing I can do about it. I'm not the only one not playing well and [coach Cory Clouston] decides to pick me. It's been happening my whole career. I accept that."
Kovalev also told reporters he did not ask to be traded.
"Sometimes it's hard because you always find [yourself] as the goat to blame it on,' said Kovalev. 'Like I said, I'm used to it, it's been happening my whole career. I accept that."
The Senators (12-16-2) are in the middle of a 3-6-0-1 skid. Kovalev told reporters he didn't think there was anything wrong with his game.
"I never make Christmas wishes, but I think at this point I wish people would stop picking my brain and just let me play the way I can," he was quoted as saying in The Sun. "That's the only Christmas wish I can have right now.
"I just don't understand because sometimes when you start playing well, and everything goes well, they start brain-picking again," added Kovalev in a comment some reporters speculated was meant toward coach Cory Clouston. "I don't know why it keeps happening and why they don't just let me play like I can. I don't know if it's some kind of jealousy or something else."
Clouston's reaction? "He's not being picked on," the coach said. "We want the consistency of effort."