Welcome to Caps 'Round the Clock, a blog covering the Washington Capitals and the NHL. In season, I update the Blog after every practice and on game day with Caps news and information, and then provide a recap and analysis after each contest. I also write a periodical Prospect Watch and weekly feature pieces on the state of the Men in Red and other things Capitals. And of course, I will post videos and tidbits from around the League and offer my two cents as the season wears on. In the offseason, I write a Report Card for each player, and will keep you updated on all the news about the Caps through the summer. I'm glad you're here, and hope you come back!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Why Alex Ovechkin Should Not Play in the World Championships

The Washington Capitals' season is over.  But for a few players in the NHL whose playoff dream ends prematurely, the opportunity arises for them to represent their country in the IIHF World Championships, which is, in effect, the World Cup of hockey.
One of these players is Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who has decided to travel to Slovakia following the Caps' elimination and join the Red Army for the remainder of the tournament.
I do not agree with this decision by any stretch of the imagination.
First off, I want to say to anyone reading this who is affiliated with or lives in Russia that I understand how important this tournament is for your country.  The Worlds are a big deal.  You were upset last year.  I understand that and I understand why you want your best player with you.
Ovechkin indicated in his end of the year news conference that he does not want to go, but will because he feels it his duty.  "I will represnt my country."  That is all well and good, and an honorable thing to do.  Ovechkin has garnered fame and fortune playing the game he loves, and it is only natural that he should want to win a gold medal for his country.  I respect that and I understand it.
But at the same time, Alex Ovechkin is, first and foremost, the captain and unquestioned leader of the Washington Capitals.  George McPhee and Ted Leonsis have invested in Ovechkin with a 13-year, $124 million contract.  The future of this franchise and it's Stanley Cup aspirations rest firmly on the Russian's shoulders.  His number one priority, without question, has to be the Caps.
That being said, his decision, to me, does not fully indicate that this is the case. Let's be frank for a second: the Caps have now failed to live up to postseason expectations for the third year in a row, and have fallen in spectacular fashion.  It is a glaring weakness and a profound hole on Ovie's resume.  It's not like he's never won a gold medal at the Worlds; he did in 2008.
Ovechkin is banged up.  Bruce Boudreau said Thursday that his injuries were "more serious" than believed and he is not at 100%.  The captain has admitted to being hurt most of the year; there are rumors about a knee scope.  Ovie should be resting at home and thinking about what went wrong, not playing more hockey.
Tough questions must be answered, and they won't be on a rink in Slovakia. Washington has to find a way to get over this hump, and it starts with Alex.

This is the honorable decision.  I just don't think its the smart one.

NOTE:  This post in not meant to be inflammatory, nor is it meant to question Alex Ovechkin's character or long-term commitment to the franchise.  I apologize if it has in any way.  Please leave a comment with your opinion.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with this assessment, though was a bit glad to hear (from you) that he didn't want to do it. To me, it just seems awkward. I mean, his season LITERALLY ended last night. This just makes him look bad. Though I thought he played well for most parts of the second series, he should at least stick around for a few days and talk to his team before they leave for the summer, and some of them for good.