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Leonsis on Ovechkin: “He needs to play better”

Jan 30, 2013, 4:41 PM EDT

Alex Ovechkin AP

Not unlike his paying customers, Capitals owner Ted Leonsis is worried about the play of Alex Ovechkin.

Via Puck Daddy, Leonsis voiced his concerns today on Washington radio station WTOP.

“Alex is off to a slow start,” he said, “and I’m surprised because he did go play in the KHL. But he’s having to get integrated into this new system. We put him on the right side, and now he’s back on the left side.

“He needs to play better. I don’t have the answers, obviously; I’m not running the hockey operations.”

Ovechkin was held pointless in yesterday’s loss to the Ottawa Senators. In six games, the 27-year-old former NHL scoring champ has just one goal and one assist.

When asked what he thought his star player — the one with the $124 million contract — could do better, Leonsis said, “You know, he gets double-teamed all the time. He has to keep moving. That’s the one thing I’ve noticed when he doesn’t have a good game – he seems to be more stationary.”

That’s one theory. There are plenty of others.

But Leonsis put it best with this: “He needs to play better.”

  1. elemeno89 - Jan 30, 2013 at 4:45 PM

    hey ted:


    • nothanksimdriving123 - Jan 30, 2013 at 5:41 PM

      Ridiculous. Leave Crazy Eight alone. He’s on pace for 8 goals and 16 points for the season. They want even MORE?

  2. barkar942 - Jan 30, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    Yeah, umm, that about sums it up there, Ted.
    Great hockey mind at work!

  3. misterchainbluelightning - Jan 30, 2013 at 4:50 PM

    Got Paid
    Got Clean

  4. danbroadus - Jan 30, 2013 at 5:18 PM

    Maybe he should stop playing his best player and largest investment with Crabb and Beagle. If one bought a champion racehorse, would he or she sling weights over its back and then complain that the horse wasn’t winning any races?

    • stakex - Jan 30, 2013 at 6:41 PM

      On top of that, throwing him into a position in which hes never played while also learning a completely new system couldn’t have helped.

      Its funny…. Ovechkin gets out of Washington and plays somewhere else and he looks like his old self. Heads back to the Caps, and it all goes to hell. Throw in the fact that the team as a whole simply can’t score (Backstrom has zero goals and only three asists) and its not hard to see what the problem is.

      • danbroadus - Jan 30, 2013 at 6:45 PM

        There are 29 teams in the league that would love to put Ovi on their top line. If Washington’s not going to use him, they’re going to have to lose him.

      • stakex - Jan 30, 2013 at 6:58 PM

        Washington will never trade him, but I honestly think that best thing for him would be playing somewhere else. The whole Washington organization just seems screwed up, and everything they seem to be doing with Ovechkin is only hurting his game. If he was playing for a different team, he would probably be a 50 goal scorer again.

      • 2jivecrew - Jan 31, 2013 at 12:01 AM

        Excuses, excuses. This is season #3 of AO not coming anywhere remotely close to earning his cap hit. AO wasn’t doing a whole lot even when he had top end line mates. Or playing on the left. Or playing for BB, or Hunter, or now Oates. Blaming “the system” again? Lol yeah okay. It seems the only system AO can flourish within is one where there is zero defensive responsibility……and we saw over and over how that works out in the playoffs.

        AO will not finish his contract in Washington. And I predict by the end of this year he will start publicly asking for a trade. And he will likely get it sooner than later, but the return won’t be anything close to what Washington fans think he’s worth in the marketplace.

        And no, there aren’t “29 other teams ” that would love to put AO on their top line, not at his contracted price. Not with his defensive flaws. And no team in the league is going to offer anything significant for a guy who may not ever come close to being what he once was under BB’s run and gun system. AO’s trade value is practically nil because of his contract and because there isn’t even a likelihood for a return to form.

        Remember when all those people tried elevating AO above Crosby? Yeah, that was cute. Guess all that’s finally settled once and for all.

  5. dawglb - Jan 30, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    My production at work would go down if I had his girlfriend, too.

  6. malcolmsbeard - Jan 30, 2013 at 5:30 PM

    Hmmm. Leonsis kicking off the discussion of whether OV could be the recipient of a buyout in the off-season?

    • stakex - Jan 30, 2013 at 6:45 PM

      They would have to cut him an $80-90 million check… thats not going to happen. Ever.

    • hockeyflow33 - Jan 30, 2013 at 6:46 PM

      Why do people post stupid comments like this?

  7. nogoodtomedead - Jan 30, 2013 at 5:31 PM

    This situation is going from bad to worse.

    Why sign a top goal scorer to a 10 year contract then decide to try and force him into a responsible 2 way player? Let him gun for goals and not worry about anything else. I think they’ve messed with his head. He scored sixty goals and has basically been told that isn’t gonna cut it. Now he’s playing with grinders. He should never have been given the ‘C’- he needs to go somewhere where he can just be an offensive threat and where the team is going to try and allow him to succeed in being that. Just like 3 years ago they were the best offensive team in hockey- and just because they didn’t get it done in the playoffs they have tried to change their entire identity- and he doesn’t fit anymore. Change of scenery is badly needed.

    • stakex - Jan 30, 2013 at 6:44 PM

      Thats absolutely right.

      The ironic thing about this is that Ovechkin was a +45 in the 2009 season, and in the offseason they decided that he needed to be better on defense and hes never really be right since. You know what? If the guy makes some mistakes on defense, but is scoring enough to have a +45…. leave him alone, and let his offense be his defense.

  8. ravenscaps48 - Jan 30, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    Thanks Ted, now go back to focusing on your darling Wizards

  9. buffalomafia - Jan 30, 2013 at 6:04 PM

    He needs to play on another team!!!

  10. capsfan19 - Jan 30, 2013 at 6:18 PM

    I dunno he just isnt himself. Im not ready to pull the lets move him to another team thing yet. Strip him of the captaincy, give it to brouwer or laich, then just let him do his thing. After becoming captain stats all around fell wayyyy off.

  11. stakex - Jan 30, 2013 at 6:55 PM

    Ovechkin catches all the flak, but its really the Caps as a whole that are simply awful. When Joel Ward is leading your team in goals scored, and you have guys name Ovechkin/Backstrom/Green on your roster…your problems are far bigger then one guy.

    People will say “Oh, but its been three years now with three different coaches…”, and that might be true but thats part of the problem. The Caps are learning their 4th new system in less then three years, and there seems to be no clear direction for exactlly what they want from Ovechkin. Their organization is a disaster and its having terrible impact on not just Ovechkin, but everyone. When you think about it… its amazing Ovechkin managed to score 38 goals last year with everything thats going on in Washington.

    Another thing I would like to point out is that Malkin also only has one goal at this point and I haven’t heard a word about it. He does have five assists, that might have something to do with the fact hes not playing with Crabb and Beagle…. just a theory.

    • mp1113 - Jan 30, 2013 at 7:23 PM

      as a caps fan i agree with most of this, they never should have tried to change anything and ovi. he is a goal scorer, not a 2 way forward, get him off of beagle and crabb and back with backstrom or riberio. let ovi do his thing and the goals will come, but keep trying to change him and play him with grinders and this seasons early results will continue

    • 2jivecrew - Jan 31, 2013 at 12:06 AM

      That’s because Malkin isn’t on his 3rd consecutive year of massively underperforming. AO doesn’t even come close to touching Malkin over the past couple of seasons. That’s why nobody is saying anything about Malkin. With AO it is a trend going into it’s 3rd year.

  12. steelers88 - Jan 30, 2013 at 9:06 PM

    Well I could have told you that.

  13. londonfletcher59 - Jan 31, 2013 at 7:04 AM

    First of all, it’s laughable to compare Ovi playing in the KHL to Ovi playing in the NHL. Two completely different leagues. Ovi in the KHL is basically him playing with high school students. Having said that, yes, the Caps are using him wrong. He is a goal scorer, not a defenseman. Nothing about their offensive system needed to be changed with BB. I do not believe in “Offensive Defensiveman”, at all. If you had guys like Backstrom, Ovechkin, Laich and Semin that could score goals, you did’t need Mike Green on defense scoring with the leading goal scorers. I am talking about the ’09 team, yes. Ovi’s other problem is that he won’t take those doorstep goals. As much as I hate Crosby, he’ll take those all day. A goal’s a goal, man. Quit being a sniper all the time and get in there and fight for a couple. The Caps are also missing that in Laich. He’s the best on the team in those doorstep goals, and he’s been out all season, so far. I understand there’s lockout rust and they’re getting used to a new system, but for the most part, the same guys have been playing together for, at least, three years. Something needs to happen or their prime is going to slip away.

  14. caniacx4 - Jan 31, 2013 at 8:22 AM

    Bring him to the canes to reunite with his bud Semin,!

  15. jimhockey - Jan 31, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    Talk about his “decline” is confusing because, in his high-scoring years, this guy never spent a second of the game even pretending to play defense. He played for the one team in the league that not only let him play the selfish kind of game that most scorers dream about but that was practically designed around him and for a coach who encouraged him to play the only way he was going to play anyway. He spent the entire game in the offensive zone, had no one to cover (in fact, it was his job to be as far away from someone covering HIM as possible) and led the league in minutes played and shots taken. He led the league in shots for 6 years, sometimes by ridiculous margins. In 2009, he took 156 more shots than any other of the most offense-minded players. He hold 3 of the top 6 single-season records for shots taken. Two of the others are held by that other great two-way player Phil Esposito

    Being an offensively-gifted player with no defensive responsibilities on that kind of offensively-gifted team where even the defensemen played as forwards, it would have been miraculous NOT to lead the league in scoring. Not since Wayne Gretzky has a player been told so completely not to worry about his own end of the ice, and yet anybody would still pick Grezky before Ovechkin to protect a lead and kill off a 4 on 3 in the closing minutes. Fortunately for the rest of the league, he’s also always led the league in shots that SHOULDN’T have been taken, so he’s only led in scoring once despite the size of his contract. For those who confuse shots with skill, all those who’ve outscored Ovechkin have taken fewer shots, passed more and played more all-around games.

    Having said all this, I happen to think that Boudreau’s teams were innovative and hard for opposing teams to deal with. As a Devils fan, I would see more offensive play than I saw from my own team all year, and enjoy it. Most teams expect their opponents to backcheck and don’t expect to turn and see 2 forwards and 1 defenseman already behind them on a breakout. The normal rules didn’t apply and that was confusing, especially for teams that didn’t play that often. You’re used to playing teams that play a certain way. It was less effective in the playoffs because the surprise factor was gone – opponents would have 7 games to see and counteract the unusual style of play.

    However, you still had 80 regular-season games of the most exciting kind of hockey to watch. Again as a Devils fan, you saw more skill in a single game than we’d see in a month, even though we might wind up with a better record and go farther in the playoffs. That counts for a lot because the regular season lasts a lot longer than the playoffs. For years I’ve watched the kind of grinding team that’s designed only to win the Cup and I don’t think you’d want that. The NHL didn’t even want that and changed many rules to emphasize skill over grinding.

    Achieving that perfect blend of offense and defense is actually the hardest thing to do in hockey and is probably harder than making yourself into strictly an offensive or defensive powerhouse. 29 out of 30 balanced teams fail to win the Cup every year. Why give up the advantage of making opponents adapt to a style of play they’re not used to?

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