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Bruce Boudreau expects Alex Ovechkin to be an even better leader this season

Aug 10, 2011, 6:20 PM EDT

Alex Ovechkin Getty Images

When Alex Ovechkin was named captain of the Washington Capitals in January of 2010 it was a move that surprised many people. After all, the Caps had just been captained by veteran forward Chris Clark and after he traded there was a lot of discussion about who would take the captain’s “C” in D.C. After one full season and two different playoff runs as team captain, many have questioned whether or not Ovechkin is the man for the job.

After all, with veteran leaders acquired in recent time like Mike Knuble and Jason Arnott (now off to St. Louis) to help out in the locker room, some wonder if it’s a role that the still young Ovechkin is ready for. After Ovechkin’s play the last season and a half and continuing to lead the Capitals in scoring and even being labeled by the NHL as one of the league’s biggest hitters, at the very least Ovechkin is leading by example.

As for what his coach Bruce Boudreau thinks of how Ovechkin is doing as the team captain, he’s expecting that Ovechkin will be an even better team leader this season as the Caps shape up as a favorite for the Stanley Cup. Tarik El-Bashir of The Washington Post speaks to Boudreau about what he sees Ovechkin doing more of this time around to lead the Caps.

“It’s hard sometimes to go up there and criticize your teammates,” Boudreau said, before pointing out, “His English is getting better. His knowledge of North America is getting better. That’s going to have an effect. They’ll follow his lead.”

As for Ovechkin’s down statistical season last year that saw him hand out far more assists than goals (32 goals, 53 assists), it was still a great season, just not what we’re used to seeing out of the electrifying Ovechkin. Boudreau sees Ovechkin coming back this season as motivated as he ever has been.

“I fully expect Alex Ovechkin to come back into [training] camp mean as a bear,” Boudreau said. “I’m sure — and it’s well documented — that individually for him, he took more criticism at the end of last year for his totals in goals and points, and not being up for the Hart, and not being up for other awards.”

“He’s so proud, he’s probably like, ‘I’m going to show you.’ That’s his M.O. It’s not bravado. It’s a quiet, ‘I am one of the best, I want to be one of the best and I’m going to show ‘em I’m one of the best.’”

An angry, motivated Ovechkin is the kind of Ovechkin we want to see on the ice. After a down goal scoring season, seeing Ovechkin reach the 50+ goal plateau again would help get his critics off his back. Of course, doing that while winning a Stanley Cup for the Capitals would damn well make sure to shut everyone up about the job he does on the ice. Sometimes being one of the best players in the game isn’t enough to satisfy the critics. Ovechkin will hope his motivation and his leadership can help keep the wolves at the door.

  1. icelovinbrotha215 - Aug 10, 2011 at 11:48 PM

    Well you’d hope your best player improves as a leader.

  2. blastfurnaceknows - Aug 11, 2011 at 8:32 AM

    Even better than worthless? I’d hope so, but then again, you’re his coach, so I’m not expecting it.

  3. polegojim - Aug 11, 2011 at 10:00 AM

    Ovechkin appears to suffer from the same disease as Albert Haynesworth – I got the money!

    It’s painful, because a hungry O would be an animal. Maybe the Caps should take the same route as the Pats did with Haynesworth – a Pay for Performance structure.

    Pro’s or not, every human works hard for the carrot in front of them, not the bunch already stuffed in their pockets.

    Imagine that in professional sports – NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA… actual Pay for Performance. What a backwards system we’ve created.

  4. jpelle82 - Aug 11, 2011 at 6:12 PM

    all the C does is gives an excuse to bitch at the refs. ovechkin is great at that…up there with crosby in that regard

  5. polegojim - Aug 12, 2011 at 9:12 AM

    All these thumbs down…but no legitimate defense??? There is none.

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