The National Hockey League has a dilemma: its most exciting player may also be its dirtiest.
"The Great 8", two-time MVP Alexander Ovechkin, is a reliable highlight-show participant. His spectacular goals are one reason for that. Sadly, his dangerous plays are another.
Ovechkin's latest transgression: a needless hit from behind on Chicago defenseman Brian Campbell. Ovechkin was tossed from the game, but Campbell's season is over. His collision with the end boards, courtesy of Ovechkin's hit, resulted in a broken collarbone and broken ribs.
Look, I love Ovechkin's passion and energy. He's one of those athletes you have to watch, because something amazing is often just moments away. But there's a line, and Ovechkin crosses it far too often. Just this season, he was suspended for two games after authoring a dangerous knee-to-knee hit on Carolina's Tim Gleason. And who can forget the knee-to-knee shot on Pittsburgh's Sergei Gonchar in last year's playoffs?
There's already talk that some arcane NHL rule will allow league disciplinarians to skate around what's obviously required here: an Ovechkin suspension. The guy is a repeat offender and deserves harsh punishment. Doesn't matter how many goals he scores: dirty is dirty and it has to be stopped.
My suggestion: an open-ended suspension. Ovechkin can play again as soon as Brian Campbell, his latest victim, can suit up. Maybe that'll make hockey's greatest/dirtiest player think twice next time.