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Is Ovechkin Losing His Luster?

from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,

The Great Eight is flashing his trademark gap-toothed grin when he says it. Yet it seems that somehow, someway, that famous smile does not carry the same intoxicating spell over the masses as it once did.

For some of us, he is still the most electrifying, riveting talent in the game, the one player that is worth the price of the NHL’s at-times inflated admission.

At the same time, it is evident that the bloom, in the eyes of some, has come off the rose.

Maybe it’s because they remember how Ovechkin’s so-called powerful Olympic team was humiliated 7-3 by Team Canada at the Vancouver Winter Games.

Maybe it’s because the image of Ovechkin’s controversial hit on Chicago’s Brian Campbell remains etched in their minds, an incident that landed the Caps’ sniper a two-game suspension.

Maybe it’s because the critics claim he hasn’t, at least from a team standpoint, won anything, pointing to the Caps’ first-round exit to the underdog Montreal Canadiens this past spring as a prime example.

Weighing all the factors, is it really fair to put all these things on the shoulders of Ovechkin, whose team has won just one playoff series during his time in Washington?

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: alexander+ovechkin

Comments

Greg's avatar

I’m not sure if he’s losing his lustre, or people are just seeing him for what he is now.  Just because a player runs around hitting everyone, and scores 50 goals doesn’t make him the second coming.

He’s a one dimensional player, and anyone who watches a little hockey, or understands the game should recognize that.

He has been the driving force behind the best team (regular season) for the past few years, so he probably does all the awards he’s received, but if there is a question if the shine is coming off, its more due to the fact that he hasn’t gotten any better than when he arrived in the NHL 5 seasons ago.

Posted by Greg on 09/19/10 at 09:21 AM ET

edillac's avatar

he is Russian,so offcourse,.....
blahblah Canadian media and NA hockey supremacy,........

Posted by edillac from isolation on 09/19/10 at 09:31 AM ET

Tony's avatar

Well, for all of his offensive firepower, which is fantastic to watch, maybe it’s possible that people are tired of his accumulating borderline dirty hits….

From my post last season…

http://www.kuklaskorner.com/index.php/tc/comments/call_cooke_dirty_if_you_must_but_then_include_ovechkin_in_the_same_breath/

Posted by Tony from Virginia Beach, VA on 09/19/10 at 10:42 AM ET

Baroque's avatar

Or maybe people in general, including hockey fans, have an attention span best measured in nanoseconds and are already looking for the next flavor of the day.

Ovechkin, to them, is old news and they want something new and sparkly.

Posted by Baroque from Michigan on 09/19/10 at 11:21 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I don’t think it has to do with hockey fans exhibiting a small attention span or looking for the next new and shiny thing as much as it is Ovechkin failing to live up to the hype around him.  Whether or not that’s fair to him (just like in the Crosby discussion) is moot.  Like Greg says, he’s failed to win.  He’s still going to be talked about as one of the most electrifying players in the league, because that’s what he is, but electrifying can only carry you so far through postseason disappointment, especially now that he’s the team captain in Washington.

he is Russian,so offcourse,.....
blahblah Canadian media and NA hockey supremacy,........

Do you have anything to add to this aside from your hatred of the Canadian media?  Are you saying that Ovechkin doesn’t deserve criticism?  I’d say that this article does a good job reflecting the way people are starting to look at Ovechkin and I’d like to think that for the most part, that’s not because of some xenophobic tilt by the North American media syndicate trying to sell us all on Crosby over the “evil, ugly Russian.”

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/19/10 at 12:22 PM ET

edillac's avatar

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/19/10 at 11:22 AM ET

did you watch that pre-olympic canadian documentary, it was cold war like type of propaganda

Posted by edillac from isolation on 09/19/10 at 01:27 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I’m not saying that there’s not a bit of Canada-centric bullshit out there, but not everything critical of Europeans from the Canadian media is wrong.  I think Ovechkin deserves the criticism he’s getting here.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/19/10 at 01:42 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

To whom much is given much is expected.  It’s about winning.  Regular season is 82 games of gaining position for the real hockey that starts in april.  That’s when hockey matters the most and that’s when Ovi fails the greatest.  The team in general seem like a team of people who are so gifted that when they have to fight for something they lose interest.  I watch mostly western conference hockey and I’m no expert but when it comes to cold hard math, Ovi is a regular season player for now.  I think if he ever has a Stevie Y moment and put winning ahead of everything on the ice, he could be formidable.  That would mean he’d have to encounter a Scotty Bowman but Caps Management are content with their gimick coach.


Could you honestly see Babs showing up to practice with self-help T-shirts?  You know Budreau hitched his wagon onto Ovi and he’s ridin’ this regular season success cause when it’s over, he doesn’t really bring a whole lot ot the table.  Maybe Ovi is not as deserving of the criticism than the system he plays in and the coach who runs it?

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 09/19/10 at 04:47 PM ET

Avatar

Do you think they would be saying this about him if he were Canadian?  Canadians are obsessed with the fact they are losing their stranglehold on the game.  They would love to go back to the late 60’s when the league was 99% Canadian.  That’s why their newspapers are filled with articles either trumpeting their superiority or trashing any one who is a threat to them.

Posted by 13 user names on 09/20/10 at 12:10 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

you mean like how the media has completely ignored the fact that Joe Thornton, from London, Ontario has never been able to take his team to the next level?

I wholeheartedly believe that if Crosby’s Penguins had lost the ‘09 Finals and had been part of a Canadian squad who got embarrassed at the Olympics, we’d all be reading an article five times more critical than this.

Like I said, there are a number of Canadian journalists who like to feed the concept of Canadian superiority to the detriment of American or European players (Don Cherry and Damien Cox come to mind immediately), but I’d be careful stereotyping the entire nation.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/20/10 at 01:01 AM ET

Avatar

May not be much, but didn’t the Caps win the President’s trophy? Seems like a team accomplishment and they are no where near San jose underachievement territory. They got knocked out by a Halak that was on fire, I didn’t hear nearly as many arguments about the Penguins flopping to the same team. It seemed like everyone had easy answers for what the Caps should do when they failed and yet those same magic bullets didn’t work for the Penguins.

There is quite a bit of a love affair with Croezky (the whiney one) in Canada that is to be expected and Ovechindros (the reckless one)  is the new black hat in town. I think there is also a backlash since it was so cool to pick Ovie over Crosby a couple of seasons ago as the counter-intuitive pick. As soon as Ovie become popular the “cool” kids find someone else to tout and tear down who they built up. Its easy for me, I root for Team Canada against Team Russia and then I root for Team USA over Canada so I get to hate both of them equally when they play against my team.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 09/20/10 at 11:50 AM ET

Tony's avatar

But you nailed it right there, the Caps have completely ignored the thing that can put them over the top for three straight offseasons, and that’s getting defensemen that can actually play defense….

Maybe their hoping Carlson and Alzner will fill those roles, they looked impressive last season, but IMO it’s unfair to lay the blame at Ovechkin’s feet… You want to blame someone, try McPhee and Leonsis….

Posted by Tony from Virginia Beach, VA on 09/20/10 at 11:58 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

It seemed like everyone had easy answers for what the Caps should do when they failed and yet those same magic bullets didn’t work for the Penguins.

That’s because the Penguins didn’t win the President’s Trophy and were (rightly for their postseason rankings) considered at best a high-middling contender for the Cup.  Not everybody jumped on the Penguins because that’s the leeway that being the defending Cup champ gives you in that situation.  The Caps have struggled under their own expectations for a few years now. 

I do blame Bruce Boudreau, George McPhee, and even Ted Leonsis more than Ovechkin for the Capitals’ failure to even make the cup finals with the current team, but Ovechkin is the face of that organization and as such, his fate lies with the fate of his club

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/20/10 at 12:23 PM ET

Avatar

I don’t blame anyone for the Caps failure just yet, the jury is still out on Boudreau, but if you ever saw the Caps under Hanlon you would see that he changed the culture quickly. He may be the stop gap coach that elevates a team to contender, but is insufficient as a bench boss to win it (see the late Roger Nielsen) Can he get them over the top I still have my doubts. McPhee blew a big chance two season ago by not getting Guerin and getting Cote was a head scratcher, but I think he was correct in leaving it up to Alzner and Carlsson this season. I blame Leonsis for not understanding the culture of hockey enough to know when to keep his mouth closed and becoming a distraction at times.

As for the Penguins, they were heavily favored over the Habs, just like the Caps and they were the defending Cup champs and not a dismantled team like the Hawks. So there is a valid a comparison that they crapped the bed just like the Caps. They took on a tired team that had a well established game plan to counter and didn’t live up to expectations. Pre-Playfoffs it was almost pre-ordained to be Caps vs Pens in the second round and it was reasonably believed to be the series to watch. More likley the Penguins escaped criticism because they have already won the Cup with Crosby so it is a non-issue as to whether he can lead his team to the Cup or not.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 09/20/10 at 01:14 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

More likley the Penguins escaped criticism because they have already won the Cup with Crosby so it is a non-issue as to whether he can lead his team to the Cup or not.

That’s kind of what I was getting at, but I think you put it better.

I wonder how different the finger-pointing would have gone if the Habs had knocked the Penguins out of the first round and the Caps out of the 2nd?

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/20/10 at 01:21 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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