Alexander Ovechkin laid a medium-grade hit on Zbynek Michalek during a loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins this week. The NHL suspended him for two games, in a timeframe which includes Saturday’s All-Star Game.
After the suspension, Ovi said, nope, not gonna play. No All-Star Game for me.
People are calling him a jerk and a poor sport, and far worse names, as sports commenters will.
Sorry, in the sense that I’m totally not sorry. I happen to think he’s absolutely right.
Yes, I am a lifelong Washington Capitals fan. I am not, however, a blinded Ovechkin supporter. I think his play has been lax for the hype and salary he commands, and I’m not always thrilled with his attitude. I also loved Bruce Boudreau for absolutely no reason other than that he is Bruce Boudreau, emeffers. I think his dismissal from the team was probably due in some way to Ovi’s star power, and I think it was stupid.
But I’ve watched the Michalek hit multiple times, and I don’t think it was suspension worthy.
(I have no data to confirm any of the above hit or coach-firing analysis. I could be completely wrong, but I am not in my own mind. And if you think I am, I don’t care. What do I look like, a hockey scientist? I’m just your average irrational fan.)
My Ovi-cynicism aside, it’s just clear after the past few years that he is a big-name fall guy for enforcers in the NHL. He is a fall guy for the same league that shills him endlessly as one of its superstars. This includes a mostly manufactured rivalry with Sidney Crosby, an admittedly outstanding hockey player who unfortunately can’t even play due to concussion symptoms that are 0bviously serious enough to keep him out of action for more than a year now.
In Ovi’s interview when he discussed his decision not to play, I actually sort of believed him when he said that he was afraid this reaction to his physical play was going to follow him his whole career. He’s going to keep getting called out for the way he plays hockey — a way he plays hockey that makes him the big name, occasional magic goal player he is. Happy birthday, Gary Bettman, am I right?
So in this case, unlike many others? I say hey, Ovi, refuse to play. Check yourself, if the NHL’s going to. If Tim Tool Time Thomas can embarrass himself by refusing to visit with the president of the United States and people defend him for that? You skip the All-Star game, baby. Rest up. We need you more in the playoffs.
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