In suspending him for two games for seriously injuring Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell with a dangerous push-from-behind into the end boards, the National Hockey League sent a message to Washington Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin that he really needs to start hearing.
With his second suspension of the season, his style of reckless
play which is always bordering on the line of potentially sending someone to
the hospital is becoming tiresome. Ovechkin does a good job at shrugging his
shoulders and reminding us that the game of hockey is a physical one and that
these instances are unfortunate, however that speech is slowly falling on deaf
Ovechkin deserved the suspension, but it seems clear that he will need to
get a few more of them to start changing the way he plays the game.
Earlier this season, with his knee-on-knee hit with Tim
Gleason, Ovechkin said afterwards: “I play risky.” He also said that he has no
reason to change. Even Caps’ coach Bruce Boudreau chimed in, saying that he
wished his star player would curb some of his “pretty reckless” ways. A few more
incidents later and we now look at Brian Campbell in his hospital bed, likely
unable to set foot on the ice again this season.
Everybody who is excusing Ovechkin’s behavior is supporting
his program of reckless play. Even more importantly, they are standing pat against
The decision that Ovechkin made to throw Campbell down, fully
knowing the potential consequences of doing it so far from the boards where it
is fairly obvious how the player will end up on the ice. For Ovechkin to say it
was “unfortunate” is to ignore the basic understanding of on-ice physics. Some people are even going as far as pointing to the NHL
rule-book on boarding, which stipulates that a player’s awareness of an
impending hit from behind somehow absolves Ovechkin of guilt.
We are far beyond the
letter of the law when it comes to injuring people in these types of damaging
ways. We cannot just shrug our shoulders and say he did what is allowed. That
is exactly why the GMs just came out with a new rule on head shots. That is why
we are always having 101 pro and con discussions regarding this type of
physicality in hockey – because of the immensely negative side-effects we are
forced to see and discuss on a weekly basis.
We have players heading to the hospital and threatening their
careers at a far too alarming rate. We are presently moving forward on the
issue and it is clear as day where it is heading. Alex Ovechkin knows this and
it will likely take a few more suspensions doled out to him to finally figure
The more appropriate view we should take in the ‘what if’ scenario is
the… “what if Alex Ovechkin did not do that?” or “what if Alex Ovechkin did it in
a different way?” Would the game’s outcome have been that much different and/or in jeopardy?
We all know that certain Lady Byng-type players would have
never executed such a check from behind no matter what the circumstance. These
are the people who do not have that type of aggression being a part of their
agenda. They do not want to hurt people because they do not want to have that
burden on their shoulders. Use this type of other circumstance to judge this
case because that is what the people are doing who want to end these type of
injuries. Using even another perspective, we dont want to explain away in legal
lingo why an officer had a “right” to shoot someone whom he thought
Just as in that type of unfortunate incident, we should
similarly here try and focus on eliminating this stuff from happening. Sending
Ovechkin off the ice for two games is a part of his personal learning process.
Here’s hoping he is getting a good education.