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THE DARTBOARD: Ovechkin's 2-Game Suspension The Least of His Worries

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SarahSpain

Sports reporter, sarcastic smartass, music lover, funny gal.

Today the NHL dropped a two-game suspension on Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin for this illegal hit on the Blackhawks' Brian Campbell on Sunday.


Campbell suffered a broken collarbone when he hit the boards and will almost assuredly miss the rest of the season. 

After the game Ovechkin said: "There's nothing I can do right now. He just fell and this happens."

English may not be Ovie's first language, but I'm 100% sure he knows the meaning of the word "fall." Trying to use semantics to defend what was clearly a brutal late hit won't save him from the wrath of Hawks fans or the league, who awarded the suspension based on Ovie's previous incidents.

The LA Times reports:

Because he also was suspended for two games earlier this season, Ovechkin is now considered a repeat offender under the collective bargaining agreement. He'll forfeit more than $232,000 in salary based on the number of games in the season instead of the number of days.

"We have no problem with the way Alex tried to finish his check," Capitals general manager George McPhee said in a statement. "Unfortunately, an injury resulted. We are disappointed with the suspension but do not want to comment further."
I've always been a fan of Ovie's enthusiasm on the ice and there's no doubt he's one of the very best players in the NHL. Unfortunately, he's made it clear as of late that he sees himself as above the law.

Writes Ryan Lambert, of the always-excellent Puck Daddy:

The puck was clearly away from Campbell when Ovechkin engaged him, and the hit gave Campbell no way to protect himself crashing into the end-boards. Textbook boarding call in a very dangerous part of the ice. Of course it deserved a match penalty, it was an exceptionally stupid play on Ovie's part.

This will likely result in his second suspension this season. He could have gotten one for that hit on Briere a few years ago and the one on Kaleta in November. He blind-sided Dustin Brown away from the play a few years back. Jamie Howard got stretchered off the ice after Ovie hit him from behind. He slew-footed Rich Peverley in October. He's hit Wideman, Gonchar and Gleason knee-to-knee. He shot a puck at Rob Scuderi after the whistle.

Any one, two or even three of those incidents could have been dismissed as Ovechkin's ability to play dominant physical hockey getting a little out of control or maybe emotion getting the best of him. But add up all those incidents. There are nine of them in just a few years, with the majority happening either this season or last.

There's a clear pattern developing.

It's impossible to argue against Ovechkin's talent, but you can argue against his professionalism. In sports, what separates the legends from the greats is how they played the game. Until Ovechkin learns to respect his fellow NHL'ers and stops engaging in selfish, dangerous play, he'll never be a legend, he'll just be great.

And either way, next time he plays the Hawks, he'll just be dead effin' meat.

For knocking out Campbell for the year, for not taking responsibility for your actions and for tainting your immense talent with cheap shots and dirty plays...
  
Alex Ovechkin, welcome to THE DARTBOARD.

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6 Comments

Harrison said:

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I'm not sure how he sees himself as "above the law". He seemed to acknowlege the illegal nature of his hit immediately after the incident. He obviously plays hard and sometimes it goes too far. There have been plenty of times when players have been criticized for not finishing their checks. That's basically what he did but the result was an injury. I totally agree that it was illegal but there is a difference in playing hard and trying to finish your checks and the headhunting that has become the norm in the NHL. There is malicious and there is reckless. While neither is great, I'd rather see the later. Sorry to see that Campbell was injured. I have a great deal of respect for the Hawks in general. Hope he gets better soon. Would love to see these two teams in the finals.

SarahSpain said:

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He absolutely didn't acknowledge it, he denied it. After the game he said:

"There's nothing I can do right now. He just fell and this happens."

"I don't hit him hard. I just pushed him, but he fell bad. You can see every shift it happens, little pushes, little battles."

Would love to see the Hawks face the Caps in the finals, too, but I'd like him to acknowledge that the hit--whether unintentional or not--was clear boarding according to league rules.

Harrison said:

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I just totally disagree. I don't think that the punishment fits the crime. Here's basically how I feel. It's a portion lifted from Puck Daddy at Yahoo yesterday:

If you believe Ovechkin is playing out of control and needs some time out in the corner, then two games was warranted. If you believe the punishment should fit the injury, then two games may not be enough.

If you believe, as we do, that a dumb shove in the back near the end boards with unfortunate circumstances isn't the stuff suspensions are made of -- and that you should suspend to the act, not the result -- then the NHL just whiffed on another disciplinary decision.

If only Ovechkin had the good sense to place Campbell in a Scorpion Death Lock along the boards like Steve Downie, he might have avoided suspension. But then Sidney Crosby(notes) came back and played, right? Suspensions are only for the injurious, not the ones with intentions to injure.

Harrison said:

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And I don't think it's up to any player to publicly acknowledge the illegality of a play or hit. Are you complaining that Cooke or Downie come out with an apology? Probably not. And it's probably b/c they didn't commit the offense against your team.

SarahSpain said:

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It's not too tough to apologize after a suspension--it's a pretty standard practice to get back in the good graces of the league and your team's fans. Would have liked to have seen him take the high road after the game instead of saying that Campbell "fell."

As I said in the post, I'm not anti-Ovie. I think he's awesome to watch and so talented. He was rightly suspended b/c of his previous incident, end of story. This post is about Ovie, not Downie, which is why I didn't comment on that situation.

We can agree to disagree, which isn't a surprise. We both stand by our teams. : )

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