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Alex Ovechkin diplomatic about benching: “You have to suck it up”

Apr 30, 2012, 11:12 PM EDT

ovigetty Getty Images

If Alex Ovechkin is furious about his meager ice time, he’s at least keeping those views to himself. Once again the Washington Capitals captain is saying all the right things about Dale Hunter’s decision to glue him to the bench for most of Game 2, which he eventually decided with a 3-2 goal.

Katie Carrera collected Ovechkin’s thoughts on his 13:36 minutes of ice time.

“You have to suck it up and use what time Dale is giving to me,” Ovechkin said.

Yup, that more or less follows the pattern of Ovi’s diplomatic comments regarding his scant opportunities so far in the 2012 playoffs. For whatever it’s worth, Washington has five playoff wins so far after being swept from the second round in 2011.

Ovechkin seems to get Hunter’s message about what he needs to do to receive more ice time.

“Score goals and play safely,” Ovechkin said. “when you play safely the team and the coaches have trust in you.”

Fans who loved Ovechkin for the days when he was basically a human video game – hard hits, big goals and unfiltered exuberance – might be a little bummed about that, but it’s clearly what Hunter wants. The Capitals’ head coach provided some extra insight about Ovechkin’s ice time and attitude in these quotes from Stephen Whyno.

“Some nights, it’s one way – this night, one way and then the next night I double-shifted him a few games during the year. He played 25 minutes or something, and he’s fine with that, being extra tired at the end,” Hunter said. “He’s one of these guys that he’s a team guy and he wants to win very badly. He’s the biggest cheerleader there late in the game there when these guys are going down blocking shots.”

Who knows how long this fascinating Hunter-Ovechkin partnership will actually last, but Hunter probably makes the most prescient point: if they keep winning, they’ll keep the peace. Winning has a way of smoothing things over, after all – but the Capitals still have a long way to go before everyone starts looking like geniuses.

  1. dsd3 - Apr 30, 2012 at 11:54 PM

    I love how everyone thinks Ovechkin’s a horrible captain basically only because he’s Russian but nobody talks about the immaturity of Crosby in the Philadelphia series.

    Trust me, I really don’t want to talk about Sidney Crosby anymore, but I fail to see how anyone can question Ovechkin’s leadership this year but not Crosby’s, or any other captain in the NHL. It seems like Ovechkin is always the scapegoat, whereas some others get off scot-free.

    Yes, I understand Ovechkin’s ice time has decreased, but I would argue that he’s played no worse than Crosby in the Philly series and the Caps are still in the playoffs. And he’s handled his additional time on the bench by refusing to fuel any flames of resentment he might have behind the scenes. Sounds like a pretty good captain to me.

    I remember watching him on 24/7 last year, and he was doing all the same things other captains do. I’m not sure where this comes from.

    • dsd3 - Apr 30, 2012 at 11:55 PM

      One additional thing: can you imagine the fallout if Ovechkin had done what Crosby did with the glove in Game 3 of Pitt vs Philly? We’d really never hear the end of it.

    • lostpuppysyndrome - May 1, 2012 at 10:57 AM

      “Nobody talk about the immaturity of Crosby”? Duuuuuude, that train left a long time ago.

  2. id4joey - May 1, 2012 at 5:49 AM

    Yeah! Put the Crosby issue to rest. Let it go.

    • dsd3 - May 1, 2012 at 11:14 AM

      I only brought Crosby up as an example. Not because I want to talk about Crosby. I was talking about Ovechkin.

  3. pxeeks - May 1, 2012 at 7:26 AM

    Ovechkin is a superstar. He should b on the ice longer than any other skater. Imagine if this was the NBA and they did that with LeBron James on national TV. Coach would be fired. Never happen.

    • banshee950 - May 1, 2012 at 7:51 AM

      thats why the NBA blows. hockey is the ultimate team sport, not a bunch of over paid whiner b!tches not even playing a full hour, hogging the ball and putting on a one man show. please never bring up the squeaky sneaker sport here, there must be a wwf site you could comment on.
      both Crosby and Ovi were given the C cos they are marquee players, not becasue of thier leadership. I don’t know how they were selected, I thought the C was a team vote thing, not a ownership/money descision. Neither one is a leader, not yet, but Ovi seems more inclined to work at it.

      • lostpuppysyndrome - May 1, 2012 at 11:03 AM

        Wellll in all fairness, no one plays even a full half-hour, let alone an hour in the NHL. That aside, YOU ARE CORRECT SIR.

  4. rockthered1286 - May 1, 2012 at 7:45 AM

    Here’s the thing: While controversy is being stirred in the media, Hunter is actually playing to win this chess match. What did Boston do in the begining of the series when Ovi was playing 30 minutes or so? They were sticking their physical guys on him, knocking him around, and wearing him down. By decreasing Ovechkin’s minutes, not only is Hunter screwing with the Ranger’s lines and their mojo, he’s always keeping Ovechkin extremely fresh. Torts has no clue when to expect 8 on the rink so he’s constantly keeping an eye out for that. All in all, it’s a wise move and in the end, it’s keeping Ovechkin fresh for a deeper run in the playoffs.

    That being said, if we end up down 3 games to 1, I do expect to see an increase in minutes as a desperation move, or at the very least because it would mean Torts out a system to counter Hunters. But I don’t foresee a 3-1 series defecit so no worries!

    • lostpuppysyndrome - May 1, 2012 at 11:01 AM

      That’s an excellent point. Ovechkin was hounded by the B’s, and New York has enough guys willing to wear him down again. Not entirely positive that it’s Hunter’s reasoning for keeping Ovi off the ice but it’s a perspective I hadn’t heard or considered.

      • rockthered1286 - May 1, 2012 at 11:27 AM

        If that’s not his motive, then I sure as hell look smart with my synopsis! Hear that Teddy Leonsis! This man needs a job!

    • davidpcoelho - May 1, 2012 at 11:25 AM

      Ovi seemed pretty fresh in the third period on those power plays so maybe it is working.

      • bethgoesglobal - May 1, 2012 at 2:17 PM

        Absolutely! I think he had about 7 or so shots on net last night, 4 of which were scoring chances- that’s impressive in a game where getting 3 or 4 makes for a good night for any player (especially in the playoffs).
        He may not be getting the minutes, but it seems to me that as long as they are winning games, and he is able to get some goals, Ovi will be fine. Besides, have you seen the way he has been cheering on his teammates in these games- it’s great to see.

  5. nypdlady - May 1, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    This is a chess game. It’s about strategy. It’s about having a game plan that creates options . You have to see the forest not just one tree and U have to keep the other team off balance. Its PLAYOFF HOCKEY and OVIE wants to win. He The Captain. He gets it!!

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