As Sean Leahy wrote this morning, whether Alexander Ovechkin's(notes) knee-on-knee hit on Pittsburgh defenseman Sergei Gonchar(notes) in Game 4 deserved a suspension was a point of debate; what wasn't in question was that the Penguins' best defenseman was going to miss some time.
Make that a long, long time according to Darren Dreger of TSN, who reported this afternoon that the knee injury will cause Gonchar to "miss the next several weeks."
Dreger also published an on-the-record comment from Gonchar's agent J.P. Barry about Ovechkin that was absolutely devastating in its candor:
''We now have Exhibit A of the extreme double standard that exists in the NHL's approach to discipline. Alex clearly cuts back with his knee after missing his check with devastating results. But of course, because it's Alex, its all Sergei's fault,'' Barry told TSN.
''It was a extremely negligent hit and if anyone else in this league does the same we all know they will face serious discipline,'' Barry continued. ''Part of being 'great' means playing with respect.''
Wow. Not only does Barry label Ovechkin as a disrespectful player, but he calls out the NHL for blatant protectionism. Sure, he's caught up in the emotions of the moment; but damn if that isn't one of the most scathing indictments of a star player we've read in quite some time.
Ovechkin didn't deserve a suspension, mind you, for the hit on Gonchar. The more you view the clip, the more accidental it seems. It's a reckless play that deserved more than a minor penalty, but it wasn't an intentional attempt to cripple Gonchar.
That said, Barry's completely correct when he says there's a double-standard for Ovechkin's hits at times. Especially the ones on which he leaves his skates.
So it's Alex Goligoski time for the Penguins, who face the Washington Capitals in a critical Game 5 tonight in D.C. I'll be following the game on Twitter and here on Puck Daddy. Let's see if Simeon Varlamov(notes) shakes off Game 4.