Eastern Conference all-star Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals celebrates after a goal. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
A few mixed-theme thoughts from the NHL’s All-Star Weekend:
• The title wasn’t in dispute beforehand, but if there was any doubt Alex Ovechkin is by a country mile the most charismatic player in the game today, the Capitals superstar erased it with extreme prejudice.
From his ever-present mischievous grin, to his fan fav breakaway challenge hilarity, to a DJ stint in the wee hours of Saturday night and Sunday morning, to a JumboTron shot of him getting busted during Sunday night’s game scoping out hot-looking women; Ovechkin was so colorful he made his colleagues look like animatronic robots operating on reserve battery power.
As Sunday drew to a close, THN Art Director and noted judge of character Jamie Hodgson compared Ovechkin to another larger-than-life character: NBA colossus Shaquille O’Neal.
Being the major Shaq Daddy fan I am, I don’t know I’d go quite that far just yet. But as much as Ovechkin has raised the bar for creativity and skill on the ice, he’s setting even higher standards for NHLers off of it. The league and NHLPA would be wise to send out an instructional video of his many talents to all players.
• At the other end of the enthusiasm spectrum was Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf, who appeared to be sleep-skating his way through the shootout event. I’m not attempting to impugn the Ducks center’s character, but in comparison to Ovechkin and others, he looked to be skating in sand.
Had Getzlaf skated with more urgency, he’d have had the chance for one and perhaps two more breakaway attempts. As Ovechkin demonstrated, one extra opportunity could have made all the difference.
• The highlight of my experience at the THN/NHL party Friday night: a nice chat with Ted Leonsis and his family, who were among the first to arrive. Their affection for the game was obvious and should be held up as an example of the sport’s ability to win the hearts and minds of any American clan – no matter what the hockey establishment’s world-weary, provincialist-types claim.
• It also was great to see nearly the entire THN editorial staff taking up more than 10 seats in the corner of the Bell Centre press box at various points this weekend. Thanks to our strength in numbers, I think we could’ve kicked any other media outlet’s collective ass. Not that I advocate that kind of business.
Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
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