Alex Ovechkin was kept off the scoresheet in Wednesday's 7-3 loss to Team Canada. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
None of us know the details regarding Alex Ovechkin shoving a person with a camera in the wake of Russia’s embarrassing 7-3 loss at the hands of the Canadians, but no matter what the circumstances – there simply isn't a situation, short of a physical altercation prior to filming, that justifies his actions – the Capitals and/or the NHL need to send a message by suspending him.
The once-congenial and ultra-media-friendly Ovechkin has shown progressive cracks in his off-ice demeanor for some time now, culminating with his Olympic availability where he essentially ignored the English media during the tournament.
Contrast that with the Alex the Great who spent hours on end, patiently working with THN's art director, Jamie Hodgson, for a photo shoot for our 2006 All Access Pass special edition.
To a large degree, Ovie’s surliness is understandable. The media and fan demands on players of his caliber are overwhelming and, as I believe is the case with any public figure, he has the right to privacy and free time away from the rink. Clearly he’s become beaten down by the burden of being a superstar.
But it’s one thing to withdraw from the public eye by denying media requests and refusing to comment, it’s quite another, very disturbing turn to apparently physically assault an onlooker, no matter whether the camera-person was a fan or member of the media and no matter how he was provoked.
Whether he likes it or not, Ovechkin is an ambassador to the NHL and hockey worldwide. Behavior of this ilk is unacceptable and the league – whether in conjunction with the team or not – must send a strong message. If Sean Avery was given six games for what essentially amounts to behavior detrimental to the sport, Ovechkin’s punishment must be in that ballpark.
When contacted by email Friday evening, both the league and the Washington Capitals responded by saying they had no comment on the incident.
The fact the shoving episode occurred during the hockey’s showcase event shouldn’t influence any consideration of punishment, but it’s a true shame this fiasco will detract from the current incredible display of skill on the ice and paint yet another black mark on the game.
Edward Fraser is the editor of thehockeynews.com. His blog appears Thursdays.
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