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Ovechkin on benching: “I was pissed off”

Nov 2, 2011, 1:49 PM EDT

Alex Ovechkin Getty Images

Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post’s Capitals Insider spoke with Alex Ovechkin and Bruce Boudreau today in the wake of last night’s highly-publicized benching. In case you missed it (I have no idea how, considering we’ve written about it roughly 32 times), Ovi was benched late in regulation of Washington’s 5-4 comeback victory over Anaheim.

Here are some of the more choice quotes procured by El-Bashir (all come courtesy his Twitter account, @TarikElBashir)

Ovi on the benching: “I was pissed off. Of course I want to be in that situation on the ice.”

Ovi on what he said on the bench (allegedly cursing out Boudreau): “It doesn’t matter who I said it to, and what I said. It looked funny on TV.”

Ovi on his reaction: “It was just a little bit frustrating because I’m a leader in the team and I want that kind of responsibility.”

Boudreau on the number of TV cameras at practice: “Jeez, I only benched him one shift.” (Turns out they were there to film an NBC promo.)

Boudreau on if he pulled Ovi aside: “No. There’s nothing to talk about. We all understood it from Day One. It’s [part of] the whole theme for the whole year. We sat Marcus [Johansson]. And Jeff Halpern. Alex Semin has missed time at certain times.”

El-Bashir also reported Boudreau didn’t hear what Ovechkin muttered on the bench last night. Well, Boudreau said he didn’t hear what Oveckin muttered but according to our in-house lipreading team, it rhymes with “pat puck.” (Watch it here.)

So that’s the latest from Capitals practice. We’ll continue to provide up-to-the-minute coverage of this situation as it’s really boosting our page views.

  1. abrienza428 - Nov 2, 2011 at 2:18 PM

    This might all just blow over, but if Ovechkin did call him that, it’s not a good thing.
    What captain behaves like that? He has every right to be mad, but he’s not handling it like a leader. Granted, it’ll be judged based on how he performs in the next few games, but he should simply say something to the effect of: “I would have liked to be out there. I’ll need to step up my game if I want to be next time.”

    • danphipps01 - Nov 2, 2011 at 3:23 PM

      Ovi’s somewhat like several other Russian stars I can think of. Prospects like Filatov and Kabanov, guys who actually got a few years to prove themselves and failed like Zherdev or Yashin, and highly criticized mainstays like Semin – the common theme is that all of them seem to have problems accepting their role as one player on a team full of them. They all seem to carry themselves like superstars who can win on their own and who feel their talent gives them liscence not to work as hard as rest of their teammates. Ovi’s a bit different – he’s a phenomenally hard worker, or at least he has been, and it shows – I mean, the guy’s got the most goals since the lockout, does he not? He’s absolutely spectacular, or he was until last season and the start of this one. But now he seems to have stopped playing the physical game and tends to, in the words of another poster here, “sit back and watch the play” until he feels he can jump in and own the highlight reel with a slick break-in goal. The problem is, basically, that he doesn’t seem to work with the team as much as he could be. It was A) less of a problem when he was scoring all the time and B) a problem that couldn’t be directly attended to when they were completely reliant on his scoring, but now that Boudreau’s got all the other assets on the ice producing every game, he feels he can criticize Ovechkin’s sometimes-lazy play and try to give him the right kick in the pants so he’ll start playing like 65-goal Ovi again. Problem is, Ovi seems to take criticism as well as any Russian star – he completely ignores it, blames the coach and misses the point. Time will tell who will win this battle of wills, but if the Caps are going to go all the way, it’s NOT Boudreau who needs to back down – Boudreau’s an extremely insightful guy and his gut instincts are usually right. Remember how everyone criticized his initial decisions about Vokoun? Look how THAT turned out. The guy can tell who’s producing and who has problems and Ovi needs to recognize that HE DOES HAVE PROBLEMS. He isn’t playing like he used to and the reasons for that are all things he can change – his physical play, for starters. Boudreau’s in the right here. Ovi needs to step it up. Yeah, he’s scored a few lately, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story. He’s not the electrifying on-ice presence the entire enemy team has to be worried about anymore. If they want to win, he needs to return to form first.

  2. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Nov 2, 2011 at 3:15 PM

    It’s easy to say Ovie should just play better, but I don’t think anyone would argue he’s still one of their top 6 players even in a slump. Any coach in their right mind would have him out there with 1 min to play down by a goal. If Bruce wants to send him a message this is a stupid way to do it and I don’t blame Ovie for being pissed

    • danphipps01 - Nov 2, 2011 at 5:39 PM

      How would you send him a message, then? It’s easy to criticize, but how would you solve his problems?

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Nov 2, 2011 at 5:50 PM

        I’ve never coached hockey but I know as a player this kind of thing would only be de-motivational for me. You can always give him a vote of confidence by sticking with him, sit him down in your office and lay out your expectations, or anything more constructive than benching him at the most crucial point in the game

      • danphipps01 - Nov 2, 2011 at 7:55 PM

        Sometimes being polite and supportive and “thinking positive” just urges an already-complacent player further into complacence. Sometimes to get a player going you have to push them. There are plenty of talented guys who lapse into laziness too easily (Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley, Rick Nash) and these guys tend only to respond to someone getting inside their comfort zone and prodding them. There’s a time and place for sticking with a struggling guy, but that’s when he’s genuinely struggling through problems interfering with his play and in need of a guy to have his back. Ovi… strikes me more as just not wanting to do the hard stuff that he used to do without hesitation. It’s not that he’s giving it his all and just not scoring, like Zetterberg is right now – it’s that he’s NOT giving his all, and needs to start doing so. Trying to pump his tires and be the nice guy won’t make him any more likely to step up his game. Being mad and wanting to win back his glory, though, just might be the ticket to sixty-goal Ovi’s return.

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