The move has been debated heavily in recent days, with many observers questioning the strategy's effectiveness. General manager Lou Lamoriello has offered his support for MacLean's decision, although he refused to say whether he'd consider a similar move next week once he's head coach.
But while Kovalchuk may be the highest paid healthy scratch of all-time, he's far from the first elite player to be singled out by management. Below are a few examples of other NHL superstars who found themselves in their team's doghouse at some point in their careers.
January, 1996 - In an effort to get him to take on more of a leadership role, Bruins head coach Steve Kasper humiliates Cam Neely by benching him during a nationally televised game. To his credit, Neely responds positively the very next day by delivering a moving eulogy at the funeral of Steve Kasper.
March, 1998 - Canucks coach Mike Keenan calls captain Mark Messier into his office to explain that, while the league's policy on gambling may be open to interpretation, he still needs to stop constantly trying to bet his teammates that they can't eat just one.
January, 2004 - Enraged by Jason Spezza's inability to adhere to his defensive system, Jacques Martin is quickly restrained by his assistants after briefly displaying a facial expression.
February, 2009 - After becoming upset that his team isn't listening to him in practice, Mike Babcock's attempt at sarcasm fails when the team responds to his taunt of "maybe you all need to turn up your hearing aids" by agreeing that that's a pretty good idea and turning up their hearing aids.
December, 1987 - After chewing out franchise player Wayne Gretzky during a practice, Oilers' coach Glen Sather is accused by local media of doing the dumbest thing he could possibly do. He immediately vows to spend the rest of his managerial career proving them wrong.
January, 2006 - Penguins coach Michel Therrien grows frustrated when star player Mario Lemieux repeatedly responds to criticism by saying "Hey, good point, maybe you should call up the owner and let him know."
March, 1993 - Pat Burns shows that he doesn't play favourites when he briefly removes a slumping Doug Gilmour from the team's first line, although Gilmour does remain on the second, third, and fourth lines, both power play units, and the penalty kill.
September, 2010 - Outraged by his off-ice behaviour, Edmonton Oiler management informs a devastated Nikolai Khabibulin that effective immediately he will be forced to be their starting goaltender.
April, 1988 - Tired of his young franchise player's constant complaints about the quality of the roster, Red Wings general manager Jim Devellano angrily informs Steve Yzerman that being an NHL general manager isn't easy since it's not like other teams just call up and offer you star players for nothing.
July, 1995 - In an effort to "send a message" to the rest of the team, you briefly demote Jeremy Roenick from the first line during a game of NHL 95 even though it makes your big brother call you a spaz while punching you in the shoulder.
October, 2010 - The Islanders attempts to emulate the Devils by scratching their highest paid player prove fruitless when they are unable to figure out how to bench Alexei Yashin's buyout.
December, 1995 - In a strong statement that still resonates to this day, the Montreal Canadiens make it clear to Patrick Roy that the franchise will simply not tolerate championship-calibre goaltending.