Monday, March 15, 2010

L'Affaire Ovechkin

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.


Anonymous said...

Yeah. The NHL will end Ovechkin's behavior like baseball ended Bonds and Clemens' steroid abuse.

You really think they'll toss their biggest star?

Stan Bunger said...

Well, I'm not Pollyanna, but I'd like to think that even the semi-troglodytes who run the NHL would want to abolish actual mayhem on the ice.

Compare Ovechkin's rap sheet with Jarome Iginla's record. Another very talented guy who plays very hard, but seems to know the difference between "tough" and "dirty" well enough to stop before he crosses the line.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100% with tossing him. There is a difference with good hard hockey... A la Sid the Kid... And pure dirty hockey that ovie seems to play more then other big stars.