Devils' GM supports John MacLean

Updated: October 25, 2010, 5:35 PM ET
By Pierre LeBrun | ESPN.com

New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello backed his head coach Monday in the wake of the team's dismal start to the season and controversial benching of Ilya Kovalchuk.

A 2-6-1 start has New Jersey last in the Eastern Conference and 29th overall in the NHL but head coach John MacLean is not on the firing line at this point, Lamoriello said.

"There's no thought whatsoever," Lamoriello told ESPN.com Monday. "John has done an exceptional job. I have no issue with him. Our record certainly isn't what any of us like, but it has nothing to do with coaching."

Kovalchuk, who signed a 15-year, $100 million contract in the offseason, had tongues wagging around the league Saturday night when he was made a healthy scratch before a 6-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres. While no one involved would explain why exactly the decision was made, reports suggest he was late for a team meeting Saturday morning.

Either way, Lamoriello backed the decision.

"I am totally supportive," Lamoriello said. "Without question I was aware of it ... and without question I was supportive. So enough said."

Kovalchuk responded by scoring his third goal of the season Sunday night but the Devils lost again, 3-1 to the rival Rangers in New York.

It's made for a baffling start to the season for a Devils team that expects to contend for the Stanley Cup this season.

"You're always concerned when you don't win," said Lamoriello. "What I feel good about, if there's something good to feel good about, is we're getting chances to score. We haven't been able to take advantage of those chances. The players are working on it. We'll get through it. One way or another we'll find a way to get through it."

The Devils were off to the West Coast on Monday. They play Wednesday in San Jose followed by games in Anaheim, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Chicago before returning home for a date with the Rangers in Newark on Nov. 5.

"It'll all come together," said Lamoriello. "If you're going to go through things, you might as well go through them at a certain time even though you don't like to. But everybody's working. The coaches are doing a good job. There are no issues here. We'll handle things the way we feel they're right. And we'll go forward. We're not going to be concerned about what people think or say."

Pierre LeBrun covers the NHL for ESPN.com.

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