December 01, 2009
There's been a growing sentiment after last night's knee-on-knee hit on Tim Gleason(notes) of the Carolina Hurricanes that Alex Ovechkin(notes) needs the NHL supplemental disciplinary version of a "time out."
That after a fine for a slew foot, a questionable hit on Patrick Kaleta(notes) of the Buffalo Sabres that earned a game misconduct (but no suspension) and the Gleason hit that earned another game misconduct, Ovechkin needs some symbolic rebuke of his aggressive style from the League and, perhaps, a message that he needs to change it before something more serious occurs.
Speaking to the media today during Washington Capitals' practice, Ovechkin said he's not changing his style for anyone or any reason.
"How can you tell me, like, you just have to stop playing how you play?" he said.
"I play risky. I don't try a dirty hit, make some people get hurt. But sometimes people just turn back or turn right away so I don't have time to realize and stop. What can you do? You can't do nothing?"
Ovechkin, who labeled his knee injury as day-to-day after skating this morning, said: "Why I have listen somebody to say I have to change game. Nobody can kill me. Just play my game."
His coach may have other ideas.
"He's pretty reckless," said Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau.
"It's hard telling a guy that scores 60 goals a year to change the way he plays. At the same time, I don't want to see him getting hurt. Maybe he has to be a little more ... pick his spots a little better. The open-ice hits. It's not only the hitter; the guy who's getting hit is also moving fast, too. You're lining guys up to hit him, and once they move everything gets exposed," said Boudreau.
"It's something that'll have to be addressed by us," said the coach, who said it hasn't been addressed with Ovechkin yet. "I don't think anything said is going to change the way he plays."
Ovechkin hadn't heard from the NHL as of this morning regarding a possible suspension. He does believe that Gleason returning to the Capitals' 3-2 win over Carolina helps his case with the League's disciplinarians.
Not that he feels there should be a suspension. "I don't feel like I'm going to be suspended, but if it happens it happens. There's nothing I can do about it," he said.
As for the injury, Ovechkin skated this morning and said his knee was "not that sore. But it's going to be worse."
He wouldn't comment on an MRI, and wouldn't comment on whether he'd miss any games due to injury. "Not bad injury. I thought it was going to be worse," he said. "Thanks god I can walk, I can skate. Of course, it's a little sore."
Boudreau wouldn't rule out Thursday's game against the Florida Panthers, but expects to know more in the next 24 hours.
The vibe I get from Boudreau is that there's genuine concern that Ovechkin's style of play is going to result in situations in which he can be targeted for suspension or, worse for the team, where he attempts to lay out an opponents and ends up injuring himself (like last night).
There's too much invested in this guy for that to occur. Question is: Can anyone convince Ovechkin of that?