Adam Oates had every right to call out his underachieving superstar, Alex Ovechkin, this week. And I said as much today on TSN1260 Edmonton’s Lowdown with Lowetide show, while talking with host Al Mitchell. Ovechkin is a coach killer. For years, Ovi has been compared to Pittsburgh’s super kid, Sidney Crosby. Well, there’s absolutely no comparison. (TSN1260 podcast is here)
Last Tuesday night, after floating his way back to the defensive zone, following yet another ill-timed offensive thrust, Ovechkin let Dallas Stars’ forward Ray Whitney skate right past him, receive a pass and set up a Stars’ goal by Dustin Jeffrey. For what Ovechkin gets paid, he should have been skating so hard his tongue was hanging out on the ice…especially since the Capitals’ 2014 Stanley Cup Playoff chances have not been buried quite yet. It was absolutely hilarious to hear the Capitals’ television pxp and analyst (read “homers”) watch the replay and talk about number 8’s backcheck by saying “You’ll see Ovi thinkin’ of speeding up to pick up his man…” Hey buddy, you don’t know what the hell Ovechkin was thinking…but I can guarantee you it was not about getting back into the play. If he had thought about it, he would have done it…you know, because the guy’s a professional, right? Hilarious.
Then, after the game, Oates pointed out Ovechkin’s lazy selfishness to the media. Good on ya, Adam. It’s about time somebody showed the world that Washington owner Ted Leonsis’ golden boy is made more of lead than of gold. Like an anchor. He drags the entire team down and, in his six playoff runs with the Capitals, Ovi has only led them as far as Game Seven in the second round twice. Pathetic. And that doesn’t include the two seasons that they missed the playoffs entirely (this year would be number three).
This guy was chosen first overall in 2004, folks. He’s had an entire decade to prove that he can lead a team. The only thing he’s done is lead himself to the bank every year. This season, the Capitals are wasting nine million dollars on the Great Eight. Is he exciting to watch? You bet he is. Can he pull fans out of their seats on a daily basis? He can. Is he the kind of player who can spearhead his team’s run to a championship? Not on your life.
Sid the Kid has led the Penguins to one Stanley Cup Final (2008 loss to Detroit), one Stanley Cup championship (2009 over Detroit) and two Canadian Olympic gold medals. And, once again, his Penguins are a solid choice to come out of the East in this year’s postseason run. The kid’s a leader. Ovi’s a take-the-money-and-run-off-at-the-mouth type. He’s also pocketed two IIHF World Championship gold medals. Kinda tells you where his effort lies.
Bruce Boudreau, who may very well be coaching the Anaheim Ducks to their second-ever NHL title in about two months, has got to be thanking his lucky stars he got out of Washington alive. After watching the Ovechkin circus for way too long. Former NHL netminder Glen Hanlon was Ovechkin’s first NHL head coach. More recently, Dale Hunter took over after Boudreau was let go. Hunter couldn’t even last a season working with Ovi, saying he missed his beloved London Knights of the OHL. Sure he did. Hunter got out just in time…and by his choice. Others, like Hanlon and Boudreau (and maybe Oates) aren’t so lucky.
Canucks’ head coach John Tortorella knows exactly what it’s like to take over a team that’s run by one or two guys (or twins) who score a lot of points but don’t ever take that final step to greatness. And, no, one Stanley Cup Final appearance does not count as “greatness.” Same goes for the legion of coaches who watched Mats Sundin hop on and off the bench in Toronto. Lots of points. Lots of adulation. Very little silverware. See the pattern?
Adam Oates spoke out after Ovechkin’s selfishness because he likely couldn’t take the sideshow anymore. Don’t worry, Adam. Here’s hoping that the next NHL team you coach will have 20 guys in the room who are all professionals.