Alexander Ovechkin. The sheer mention of his name invokes awe, disdain, and sparks debate. I like Ovechkin. I own about a dozen hockey jerseys, the only one that has nothing to do with Minnesota is a #8 Washington Caps jersey. I like his game, I like his personality, and I like waht he does for the game.
What I don't like is his immunity to the rules.
Make the jump, and let's discuss another non-Wild related issue, shall we?
Of course, this all stems from last night's ejection for Ovechkin after driving Patrick Kaleta into the boards from behind. Ovechkin was issued a major penalty, a misconduct penalty, and a game misconduct. Before we go to the video, let's discuss a bit. Ovechkin is not liked in several NHL cities. Pittsburgh and Philly topping that list. I have always taken their hated with a grain of salt, as Ovechkin plays for a rival team, and is one of the best players in the game. I will sell any one part of my body to have him in Iron Range Red.
But, the video evidence is there that Ovechkin is getting away with things that others are not.
Here is the hit from last night:
Alright? So, now we have seen that. Anyone ever seen anything comparable? I have. Several times. Almost everyone of them resulted in a suspension, too. This won't. I guarantee it. Why not you may ask? Well, let's just ask Down Goes Brown.
If you follow the flow chart, you land at a choice, "Has he ever been suspended before?" which leads to the box, "Yes he does it all the time, but since we never suspended him before, we just keep saying he has no prior record and hope no one notices."
And that's where we are at.
There is a knee-to-knee on Sergei Gonchar last season:
There is the cehcking from behind on Briere, from 2006:
There is evidence this season as well (This one looks awfully familiar.):
There is the slew foot on Rich Peverley earlier this season (for which he was fined the equivalent of about three seconds of pay):
I hate jumping on the suspend Ovechkin bandwagon. I really do. I like the Caps. I like Ovechkin. I like Caps fans, especially our friends over at Japer's Rink. All that said, it's time. It's time for an uber super star to be held to the same rules that Sean Avery, George Laraque, and Derek Boogaard are held to. It is time for players like Mike Richards Dion Phaneuf to be held to the same standard as Rob Scuderi and Steve Ott are held to.
Ovechkin is a marketing monster. He was recently signed by one of the biggest marketing groups in the world, the main reason being that he is marketable. He scores goals, he has a funny personality and goofy face. People who don't like hockey know who he is, and that makes him marketable. If the NHL suspends him, it hurts his marketability, and hurts their image.
Should that matter? Absolutely not. But we live in the real world, and it does matter. No one will ever admit it, but it does matter, and it does weigh in on whether or not a player like Ovechkin is suspended. If the NHL suspends Ovechkin, they are publicly admitting that their greatest player broke the rules to the point that he had to be removed from the game. They aren't going to do that. Not when there is not a huge line of people lined up waiting to give them money.
It's time. It's time for the NHL to grow up and suspend Ovechkin. He is not above the game, and he is certainly not above the law. If he is allowed to continue playing (and hitting) unabated, someone will be seriously hurt, despite intent.
Again, anyone who is coming into this debate today, please, I am begging you, do not call me an Ovechkin hater. I like the guy. I really do. He is one of my favorite players, and the Caps are one of my favorite teams. However, the hits are bad. They really are. And if you can look at them objectively, you would agree. I have defending Ovechkin several times, but the rap sheet is too long to ignore.
The NHL needs to change its image. This is the chance.