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Oates says it’s unfair to hang Russia’s loss on Ovechkin

Feb 19, 2014, 6:32 PM EDT

Alexander Ovechkin Getty Images

The Sochi Olympics turned into a nightmare for Alex Ovechkin and Team Russia.

The reigning NHL MVP had one goal in the opening game against Slovenia and was held scoreless the rest of the way, including today’s 3-1 elimination loss to Finland.

While Russia’s coach was quick to throw Ovechkin under the bus for his performance, Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates said it’s unfair to hang all the blame on one player as Chuck Gormley of shares.

“You can only control the way you play, right?” Oates said. “You can’t control the way the team plays or how it evolves. Obviously, it’s not the ending they wanted, but this is the third Olympics in a row they haven’t medaled, so it’s not on one guy. It’s on the group and at some point I’ll have a chance to talk to [Ovechkin] about that.

“That’s why you can’t criticize one guy. It’s easy from the cheap seats. In fairness to them, they had the most pressure because it’s the host country.”

Oates is right, what ails Russia is more than just one superstar not scoring goals. Ovechkin is the face of the Russian team, however, and with that comes fair and unfair expectations all around.

Scoring just one goal makes it a bad performance, but there’s more than enough blame to go around for Russia’s poor finish. Putting it all on Ovechkin isn’t close to fair.

  1. pastabelly - Feb 19, 2014 at 6:50 PM

    Not getting a medal in the Olympics three times in a row really means that Russia simply does not belong in the discussion of elite hockey powers. The four teams in the medal round do belong and there really was clear separation in these games and Ovechkin is not the problem with hockey in Russia.

    • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Feb 19, 2014 at 9:27 PM

      They just aren’t as good as they used to be. Aside from Ovechkin, Malkin, Datsyuk and a handful of good forwards, it’s slim pickings for depth on that team. Especially on defense.

    • blomfeld - Feb 19, 2014 at 10:31 PM


      ps: at least Terrell Owens has a sense of humor ! :)

  2. eugenesaxe1 - Feb 19, 2014 at 6:54 PM

    Sounds like Comrade Coachski is afraid, and wants to point fingers. But if Ovechkin was so bad, who had the power to pull him off the ice? Hmmm…

    • barkar942 - Feb 20, 2014 at 1:48 AM

      Oh, come on. You know what happened to the last coach that actually disciplined Ovie. He was banished to Anaheim.
      You think the Russian coach wants to take a chance of being banished in Russia? It’s a lot colder in Siberia!

  3. joey4id - Feb 19, 2014 at 6:56 PM

    Is it unfair that he gets 10 million per year (the highest paid Russian)? He failed. We get that you’re in damage control, but you can’t fool all the people all the time. And if Canada fails then 87 should and will deserving take a lot of heat and I for one will question his leadership. Failed miserably last year vs Boston, though he had good offensive numbers overall. Bottom line they didn’t make it to the SC final. No excuses. Just get the job done! You want the big bucks, then you have to willing to take the heat. Otherwise go you’re nothing but an egoistic star. Man up! That goes for Ovi and Crosby.

    • pastabelly - Feb 19, 2014 at 7:09 PM

      Crosby is a great player and there also great players on the opposite end of the ice whose job it is to slow him down. The Bruins had Bergeron, Chara, and Seidenberg out there to do that, with Rask backing them up. Ovechkin also draws the best of the other team. Both players still put up the numbers and are the positives for their teams. They’re also the biggest targets for others. I admit to having fun on these boards getting on Crosby, but I wouldn’t mind if he wore a different black and gold.

      • hawksin5 - Feb 19, 2014 at 8:26 PM

        toews did it. but he’s a better leader than crosby. should b the captain of canada.

    • realemman - Feb 19, 2014 at 7:55 PM

      I don’t get how you’re talking about Crosby, when he has nothing to do with this post.

      • jcmeyer10 - Feb 19, 2014 at 8:15 PM

        Just be thankful it wasn’t Dustin Brown.

      • joey4id - Feb 20, 2014 at 9:39 AM

        I can talk about who ever I chose, and I don’t care what you think. Move on!

    • eugenesaxe1 - Feb 19, 2014 at 8:19 PM

      Russia’s paying Ovechkin exactly nothing. Washington is in the USA. Nation’s capital, as a matter of fact.

      • joey4id - Feb 20, 2014 at 9:46 AM

        Really! Gee! I thought Russia was paying for half of his NHL salary. Duh! The point is that it’s not unfair that he talks the blame. If they win gold he takes all the glory. Is that fair? BS! He failed! When you’re the face of the your NHL or country’s team your job is to deliver, and if you don’t then yes it’s fair that you take the heat.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Feb 20, 2014 at 3:27 AM

      Um, just a friendly reminder: Crosby has actually won a Stanley Cup and made the finals the year before, AND he also faced intense home ice Olympic pressure in the (probable) birthplace of the sport, and led his team to gold, scoring the OT winner!!! No one wins every year. And a great team could be assembled of Hall of Famers who never won a Cup.

      • theageofquarrel - Feb 20, 2014 at 5:27 AM

        Yeah but Crosby hasn’t done anything lately. He should just retire already.He is worthless.

      • joey4id - Feb 20, 2014 at 9:49 AM

        So what. He has a SC team in Pitt and a gold medal team in Sochi. Just do it. Stop the excuses.

  4. rockthered1286 - Feb 19, 2014 at 6:59 PM

    No no no every comment I’ve read since the Olympics started claims that the losses are 100% Ovechkins fault and every win is in spite of him.

  5. cambannedloinstache - Feb 19, 2014 at 7:03 PM

    Ovechkin led the tournament in shots and was not on the ice for a single goal against.

    Clearly his fault.

    • vm113 - Feb 19, 2014 at 7:19 PM

      Most his shots were low quality shots. The Russians would have a good drive going, his bad shot was a easy save and whistle blow, drive dead. The Russians flying up ice, Ovechkin bad shot from 30 feet away with 2 guys in his face, drive dead. Everytime the puck as on his stick he was shooting it. Destroyed the Russian’s momentum. They were not able to sustain a scoring drive because this guy killed drive after drive. Showed no play making skills whatsoever! It was pathetic to see. Most the goals scored against the Russians were PP goals(where Ovie does not play). They were really strong 5 on 5, allowing 2 or 3 goals, so the fact that he wasn’t on the ice for a “single goal against” means nothing. In fact it shows how much better the Russian D was because was his usual liability self. You obviously don’t know hat your talking about because that was a gutless performance by this dude.

      • leafs2013 - Feb 19, 2014 at 7:50 PM

        This isn’t football there are no drives you dbag

      • jimw81 - Feb 19, 2014 at 8:36 PM

        they were lost 5 on 5. they rely on the power play too much and continue to make the same mistake of not playing like a team but like individuals. but i would say what really screwing them was mixing that team with players from khl.

      • blackhawksdynasty - Feb 19, 2014 at 10:49 PM

        Ok vm113, you actually made me laugh out loud.

        I really hope you’re not as clueless about hockey as you seem to be. Most of the fans that post here at least have hockey terminology down pat (which clearly friend, you do not)

        So instead of trying to tell hockey fans that they “don’t know what they’re talking about”…..

        Please return to *proFOOTBALLtalk* and yap about your team’s drives being shut down. (I realize you’re bored during football’s off season, but geez, man……)

  6. paperlions - Feb 19, 2014 at 7:20 PM

    I still can’t believe he was given the MVP. I know scoring is important, but there are two ends of the ice no matter what your position is.

    • pastabelly - Feb 19, 2014 at 9:52 PM

      Well, everyone is now in love with Phil Kessel and nobody mentions that he is only a +1 for the season.

      • barkar942 - Feb 20, 2014 at 1:53 AM

        Much better than Ovie’s current 40 goals and -17.
        Kessel has 31 goals and is +1.
        I’ll take those numbers over Ovie’s any day.

  7. edmondalt - Feb 19, 2014 at 8:15 PM

    He killed drive after drive, what a ass!!! he’s only on the ice about 18 min. a game so there’s about 40 plus min. that he’s on the bench killing drives I guess

  8. jimw81 - Feb 19, 2014 at 8:26 PM

    he’s typical one dimensional russian player. comes up small in big situations.the main problem was the mixture of NHL and KHL players.

  9. pone27 - Feb 19, 2014 at 8:34 PM

    joey4id, thankfully your opinion/analysis goes as far as here on these message boards…

    I honestly wonder how old a lot of you who post on here are… Seriously..

    For anyone to blame any one specific player on any of the top countries is legitimately a terrible hockey fan. These countries are all composed of the best players in the world!

    To say that Ovi is the face of the Russia, well you could fool me. I honestly look at Datsyuk. Veteran player, arguably some of the best hands the sport has ever seen, amazing passer, and to top it off, easily one of the best defensive forwards of all time. I think some of you guys get caught up with the stuff Yerdon and boys say, and focus less on the game. Contracts mean squat in the Olympics.

    Ovechkin is one of many Russian superstars who did not perform up to par. To single one out, you haven’t been watching the games.

    • pone27 - Feb 19, 2014 at 8:36 PM

      To add, Ovi makes 10mil a year in the NHL, where he is leading the league in goals. Guy is earning his paycheck. Russia doesn’t pay him.

    • jimw81 - Feb 19, 2014 at 8:39 PM

      why was his face plastered all over sochi on coke machines and talked before olympics talking about how he was ready to take on the pressure? he’s come up small in playoff series after playoff series now in the olympics.

      • joey4id - Feb 20, 2014 at 9:41 AM

        Amen! Jim! You get it!

  10. hardkor07mn - Feb 19, 2014 at 9:11 PM

    For those of you who want to play the blame game, where were the other 20 something players on the ice? To single out just Ovi is ridiculous. He is a great player anywhere on this planet.
    For those of you great hockey minds, other teams put there best defensive player against him night in and night out and he leads the league in goals. I would say he’s doing something right!

  11. hardkor07mn - Feb 19, 2014 at 9:35 PM

    For those of you who want to play the blame game, where were the other 20 something players on the ice? To single out just Ovi is ridiculous. He is a great player anywhere on this planet.
    For those of you great hockey minds, other teams put there best defensive player against him night in and night out and he leads the league in goals. I would say he’s doing something right!!!

  12. killerpgh - Feb 19, 2014 at 9:40 PM

    There was a Penguins reporter on the radio this afternoon who seems to have a solid relationship with Malkin and usually is the guy that breaks all the news about Malkin with good accuracy. He was saying Malkin and AO had a horrible relationship with the coach over there. Both were frustrated. They both wanted to play on separate lines and both were upset with some player selection. Both thought Gonchar should have been on the team with because of leadership and even in his aging body is still probably the best PP QB Russia could of dressed for this tourny.

  13. blackhawksdynasty - Feb 19, 2014 at 11:02 PM

    Very few comments regarding coaching decisions for the Russians.

    Refusing to make any significant forward lineup changes or defensive pairings?
    Varlamov over Bobrovsky?

    Seemed to me Russia just didnt have their s*** together. That starts with the coach.

  14. rockthered1286 - Feb 19, 2014 at 11:35 PM

    How can you say Ovi always comes up little in big situations when he leads the NHL in game winners in regulation and OT this season? I get it when you reference playoffs but it’s a TEAM effort. If a goalie allows 5 goals how would it be solely on an offensive player to win a game 7 by himself? Failed logic my friend.

  15. angrytwitterguy - Feb 20, 2014 at 12:13 AM

    It’s ALL on the coaching staff and every and any idiot who thought they should play these KHL’ers so much.

    They picked the wrong players, played the wrong ones too often, and rann the wrong goalie out there.

    Zero blame goes to Ovechkin

  16. angrytwitterguy - Feb 20, 2014 at 12:19 AM

    Russian hockey tried to use Sochi as a way of showing how great their KHL’ers were and how equal they were to NHL’ers.
    Why was a KHL Dman out there more than their NHLers? Why was Radulov still playing? Why wasn’t Bob in net? Why was some scrub KHL’er playing with Ovechkin and Malkin?

    They threw away their chance to win in front of their country to try and prove a point that was unproveable.

    Everyone involved with the Russian team should be fired

  17. slickvb82 - Feb 20, 2014 at 12:43 AM

    Good point @angrytwitterguy….its not Ovi’s fault and the blame shouldn’t fall on him. The problem was their coaching, poor decisions from the beginning to the end. They left out a handful of NHL players that could have significantly helped the team, they started that POS Varlomov over Bob, they set the lines, they get the guys prepared before games. The only game I saw the team ready to play was against USA.

  18. kicksave1980 - Feb 20, 2014 at 12:56 AM

    In my opinion, the KHL has done more to hurt the Russian National Team than anything else. I’m not here to argue whether or not the KHL is a good league, because on it’s own merit, it IS a good league. There are talented players in the KHL for sure. But Russia tries way too hard to “compete” with the NHL, and this tournament shows just how wide the gap between the NHL and KHL really is. I’m not talking about guys like Kovalchuk or even Radulov, because they’re great players in ANY league. Markov is one of the top-2 defenseman on team Russia, and their defense was terrible in this tournament. Plenty of blame to around on that team, but it’s hard to create any offense without some sort of help help from the back end. And in hindsight, I’m sure the Czech Republic agrees…both CZ and Russia had KHL players in slots that should’ve been filled by NHL talent, and they’re both watching the medal round on tv.

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