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Ovechkin Hurts Hockey With Goon Act

Mar 15, 2010 – 11:08 PM
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Jay Mariotti

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What a damned, stinking shame that the world's greatest hockey player also is a goon. The NHL needs Alex Ovechkin to be a post-Olympic ambassador, a seductive highlight reel, a daily reason for SportsCenter to feature his goal explosions and transcendent dazzle and flair. Every time he takes a shift for the Washington Capitals, he should respect the soil on which he makes his living, remember how many Americans viewed the gold-medal game on TV -- 34.8 million at the peak hour, or almost nine percent of the national population -- and try to keep selling what's most alluring about the sport.

Instead, he's turning into some sort of crazed, Rock 'Em Sock 'Em loon, too eager to crush opponents with hunt-down hits that border on dirty and threaten to sabotage his team's Stanley Cup chances. His latest foolish act, Sunday afternoon in Chicago, landed him a two-game suspension from a league office finally cracking down on thuggery after years of using violence as a marketing tool. Clearly, Ovechkin was taking gratuitous aim at Brian Campbell when he charged up ice and, from the blindside, hammered the veteran defenseman into the end boards and left him sprawled on the ice for several minutes. Campbell might be out for the rest of the season with a broken clavicle and at least one broken rib, a tough blow for a Blackhawks team that has legitimate hopes of winning its first championship in 49 years.

"A dangerous hit,'' Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said.

"There's so much of that stuff going on now, it's pretty frustrating the players don't take a stand against something like that and say, 'You know what, we have to respect ourselves a little bit more, and know it's not all about the flashy hit,' '' said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, who plays the game the right way. "You have to know when there's a dangerous situation and you can really hurt somebody and be smarter about it."
Filed under: NHL, Sports