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Kolzig: Ovechkin is “wrapped up too much in the rock star status”

Feb 15, 2012, 2:07 PM EDT

Alex Ovechkin Getty Images

Plenty has been said and written about Alex Ovechkin this season, but nobody in the Washington organization has spoken as candidly about the Capitals’ captain as associate goalie coach Olaf Kolzig did today.

When asked why Ovechkin has struggled to find the form that once made him the most dangerous scorer in the NHL, Kolzig said…well, lots of things.

Via The Washington Post:

“I think a lot is frustration,” Kolzig began. “Obviously he’s not scoring at the clip he’s accustomed to. Part of that is not having Nicky Backstrom in the lineup. Alex — and I think I’m seeing it a little more with Dale behind the bench – Alex was getting away from playing the hard, no-nonsense, honest type of hockey, exuberant hockey that he displayed the first three years that he was in the league.

“I think that’s what endeared him to everybody. Then all of a sudden he was the same Alex, he was celebrating certain ways and what endeared him to everybody now made him look like a villain.

“So, I think part of it is he’s feeling a little not as loved as he used to be, he brings that on himself sometimes,” Kolzig continued, “But I think obviously missing Nicky, it hurts. Teams have kind of kind of got a handle on him, maybe how to close the gap on him and not allow him to score those fantastic one-on-one goals that he used to score.

“For Alex, it’s a work ethic,” Kolzig said. “He just has to get back to being the way he was in his younger days and maybe not get wrapped up too much in the rock star status that comes with being Alex Ovechkin.”

So to recap:

—- Ovechkin’s not playing the same “honest” and “exuberant” way he used to

—- He’s not feeling loved

—- The league has a book on him

—- He needs to work harder

—- He needs to stop being a rock star

All these things have been said by the media and fans, but Kolzig isn’t an outsider, giving his statements added weight.

For what it’s worth, I think the organization has to take a certain amount of responsibility for Ovechkin’s lack of “exuberance.” When the Capitals decided they had to play more conservative to win in the playoffs (a dubious theory so far), the team lost its identity and its star players stopped having fun.

I’m definitely not letting Ovechkin off the hook, since the style the Caps decided to play doesn’t excuse him for failing to add elements to his game. Every great, from Wayne Gretzky to Michael Jordan, has done that throughout his career.

Related: NHL scout ranks Russian stars, puts Ovechkin “distant fourth”

  1. govtminion - Feb 15, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    I’m inclined to agree with parts of it, but Backstrom was playing until mid-January. So why was Ovechkin playing poorly before that point as well?

  2. lsxphotog - Feb 15, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    I’ve grown to dislike him greatly after seeing how he handles things not going his way – which is poorly. When he’s on his game, he is a lot of fun to watch him play. His little hissy fit for the All Star Game proved that he doesn’t care about the fans and I hope he’s never invited back.

    • govtminion - Feb 15, 2012 at 3:15 PM

      Amen to that. If you don’t want to take part, that’s cool- we’ll see to it that you get to go hang out shirtless with dudes on Miami Beach every time the all-star weekend comes up from now on, and everyone will be happier for it.

      • barkar942 - Feb 15, 2012 at 3:59 PM

        Shirtless “Pasty” dudes. Get it right!

    • crazemastercraze - Feb 15, 2012 at 7:22 PM

      typical Russian!

  3. wethog66 - Feb 15, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    Good old Olie hit the nail on the ****ing head, but now I wonder how long he will continue to be “employed” by the Caps. Comments like that are not part of the company line….

    • wethog66 - Feb 15, 2012 at 2:26 PM

      ……or maybe the high up’s got Olie to voice this? Interesting none the less.

    • danphipps01 - Feb 15, 2012 at 2:38 PM

      Ayep. Nail on the head, my friend. Seems that the organization’s effectively made Ovechkin immune to fault or criticism. It’s always someone else’s fault.

  4. richie500 - Feb 15, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    Kolzig: Ovechkin is “wrapped up too much in the rock star status”

    And don’t forget his cheap hits!
    Drunken Russian ego!

  5. watermelon1 - Feb 15, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    And yet everyone keeps ignoring the glaring fact that the rest of the team is just horrible. It’s hard to win when you have no defense and very suspect goaltending every other night. It’s hard for 1 man to make up for that while playing from behind. And unlike when Crosby was playing and the league mandated that nobody could defend him while he camped around the net to bang in rebounds, other teams almost always have 2 guys solely focused on Ovechkin. I’d do the same thing if I played the Caps. It’s really obvious Ovechkin has some blame in this season, but I’d have to say it’s less than almost every other party involved…

    • govtminion - Feb 15, 2012 at 3:14 PM

      Oh, SO close to agreeing with this, but the swipe at Sid kills it.

    • napoleonblownapart6887 - Feb 15, 2012 at 3:25 PM

      All great points – the one about Crosby not withstanding. Ovie is certainly to blame for parts of this slump but there are much larger shifts (AREN’T HOCKEY PUNS FUN LOLZ!) at play in the organization that is cramping his style so-to-speak… also one of his coaches coming out against him in the media isn’t going to help.

      Seriously though, about the Crosby thing – you’re probably the same guy who moans everytime someone brings up Crosby because you’re sick of hearing about him, yet in an argument that has NOTHING to do with him you bring him up…

    • steeltuff - Feb 15, 2012 at 3:43 PM

      Ovechkin is nowhere close to having the work ethic and class that Crosby brings to the ice. In April and May, Ovie should watch Sid closely on TV during the playoffs and learn from him.

      • govtminion - Feb 15, 2012 at 4:19 PM

        Reading that, it occurs to me that there’s at least a significant chance that we’ll have a playoff year in which neither Crosby or Ovechkin take part (due to injury and crap effort, respectively). Four years ago, if you’d told me that I’d have laughed myself silly over the very thought of it.

  6. tribesofneurot - Feb 15, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    Lord Of The No Rings

  7. natswizskincap - Feb 15, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    Problems:
    1. Caps placed ball and chains on Cheetahs after another early exit from the playoffs causing the switch to Def. focused team. Clearly an overreaction to some very high scoring losses.
    2. Caps firing Bruce
    3. Caps hiring Dale
    4. Caps making Ovi the Captain
    5. Ovi’s attitude
    6. Injuries to Green and Backstrom
    7. Trading Tomas Fleischman
    8. Revolving door at Net
    9. Incorrect personnel for a defensive team
    10. Not enough tough guys on the team( Ovi can’t continue to be your biggest hitter)

    • rarelyshaves - Feb 16, 2012 at 10:25 AM

      vokoun has been playing pretty well, theres just no defense in front of him. hes still pitched 4 or 5 SO’s this season

      • natswizskincap - Feb 16, 2012 at 1:07 PM

        The Caps really need to return to an offense first mindset. When people
        Say the Caps don’t have good Defenders they have to remember that has more to do with Caps building an scoring machine, including the blue liners.

  8. nsmiff87 - Feb 15, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    Crosby camping at the net to score goals? It’s more like amazing hand eye coordination to deflect shots, something ovi will never have. HA!

  9. rainyday56 - Feb 15, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    Leonsis should cut his losses and get out of the jockey business altogether. Trade Ovie at the end of the season to Pens for the bargaining rights to Sid. Then sell the rights and the team to a group in Quebec. Quebec is a “national” capitol. Sid would love to play in Quebec. Vive les Capitals de Quebec!!!

  10. bikeman99 - Feb 15, 2012 at 7:58 PM

    Ovechkin in Pittsburgh no way, Pens fans appreciate his skills but sorry

  11. goalieguy37 - Feb 15, 2012 at 9:07 PM

    i came to this conclusion after that crappy russian rap video he was in. this guy needs to learn to be humble and just play hockey.

  12. wheresdapuck - Feb 15, 2012 at 9:42 PM

    I watch a lot of Capitals hockey. While Ovi may have had some work ethic problems back in November or December, I can say that he has played with a lot enthusiasm since January 1. The problem is crappy defense and puck turnovers – just giving way too many chances up to the opponent. Voukon is a decent goalie, but he can not be expected to stop 40 – 45 shots per night. I saw Ovi and Semin make highlight reel passes last Thursday night to players who just missed the puck or the open net – Ovi cannot fix that. McPhee has to fix that! Without Nickie, the Caps must find a replacement – he has been critical to the puck movement and passing!

    And Dale – get somebody’s ass in front the net on Friday night!

  13. t9tookey - Feb 15, 2012 at 10:19 PM

    One other issue that is probably hurting this team…Dale Hunter’s only signed till the end of the season and then there is an option. The fact that this the contract Hunter wanted pretty much suggests he may decide to leave at the end of the season. So if this guy isn’t committed to the team, why should they be committed to him.

    And I don’t think Hunter has endeared himself to this team either. Brought up Holtby to play against the Sharks because Neuvy play the day before? Neuvy didn’t look real happy sitting on the bench. The benching of Knuble?

    Not defending the players attitudes. They are all paid a lot of money so they should be out their playing their best every game.

    In the end, I think McPhee is the one that deserves the blame for assembling this team and firing and hiring the coaches. Kinda looks like he panicked and brought guys in hoping to plug and play and it didn’t work. Plus he didn’t bring in any secondary scoring help. Wonder if they could package Semin up for anything decent.

  14. blomfeld - Feb 15, 2012 at 11:10 PM

    A GOOFY RUSSIAN HOT DOG ?

    Yes friends, that would be an accurate and fair assessment of this person, in addition to other terms such as a:

    – parasite
    – suck-hole
    – leech
    – swindler
    – coward
    – prima donna
    – narcissist
    – disgrace (ie: especially to the Red Army greats before like Tretiak, Yakushev, etc)

    this fool has been pampered for far too long and it needs to stop now … if Ovechkin had any brains then he’d pay heed to the following “catchy” little Elvis tune, which addresses this issue of “those” who think that the world is their oyster:

  15. dubblelznhell - Feb 16, 2012 at 12:48 AM

    I honestly think he misses the competition with Crosby. He had a dip in production last year. And he’s regressed a bit more this year. When Crosby was healthy, Ovechkin played harder. Crosby or Ovechkin???

  16. billobrienschindimple - Feb 16, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    Yayovechkin is getting a little too friendly with the Colombian bam bam.

  17. jeb7524 - Feb 16, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    Defense is a team concept, not just the blue liners….what does #8 do to be part of a team defensive effort? Very little.

  18. natswizskincap - Feb 16, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    He circles the ice and waits for a breakout!!! Wah happen! Dale Hunter hasn’t changed this and I just don’t believe the Caps are correctly utilizing their players.

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