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Here’s a bunch of other ‘minus’ players

Apr 2, 2014, 3:33 PM EDT

Let’s build on the debate raging over Alex Ovechkin‘s league-worst plus-minus (-36) by bringing some other names into the discussion, shall we?

Following is a screenshot from


Not surprisingly, no shortage of Sabres and Oilers, the two worst five-on-five teams in the NHL.

Coyotes d-man Keith Yandle is a bit of a surprise being so far down, but we suppose he helps make up for it on the power play.

Nashville’s Seth Jones would probably like to see a higher number beside his name, but let’s not forget Drew Doughty finished minus-17 as a rookie and Duncan Keith was minus-11 in his first season with the ‘Hawks.

Alex Edler‘s minus-33 is almost impressive considering he’s only played 58 games this season. The next lowest plus-minus on the Canucks belongs to former Selke Trophy winner Ryan Kesler, at minus-15.

Look, we all know plus-minus is a seriously flawed statistic. Good players on bad teams constantly get overly criticized for having a low rating. Unless you think Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek are the worst players on the Ottawa Senators.

That said, there’s no question Ovechkin could be more dedicated in all three zones. Just because he scores a lot of goals, and just because he’s a winger, doesn’t mean he can ignore his defensive responsibilities.

And he knows that.

“We make easiest mistakes,” Ovechkin said after last night’s costly 5-0 loss to Dallas. “We turn puck over in our zone, in the neutral zone. It cost us the game.”

  1. girouxsalem89 - Apr 2, 2014 at 3:38 PM

    No other player on that list has scored more than 20 goals.

    Case and point.

    He is a liability on the ice and his offensive production doesn’t make up for it.

    Take the C off his chest, he doesn’t deserve it.

    • AppealToReason - Apr 2, 2014 at 3:40 PM

      Yeah 50 goal scorers grow on trees. The caps would be way better off without him.

      • girouxsalem89 - Apr 2, 2014 at 3:46 PM

        Where did I say to get rid of him?

      • goodolejr - Apr 2, 2014 at 3:47 PM

        Only 3 of the last 10 Cup winners have had a guy score more than 40 goals the year they won. It’s great that he puts up the numbers he does but I’d personally rather have a team with no guys scoring more than 30-35 goals that actually play defense.

      • joey4id - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:21 PM

        Listen, if you get rid of him and replace him with a 30 goal scorer who will give you good and just be -5, then you’ve got a almost a wash. The upside is you got ride of someone who can’t lead, and replaced him with someone who can. Win win!

      • bwayblueshirt - Apr 2, 2014 at 5:10 PM

        But you have to threaten him with something. Take the C off his chest if he can’t be at least reasonably responsible in his own zone. Right now, with his TOI/G average, he’s on the ice for a goal every 13.5 minutes. That’s got to change if the Caps want to get past, or even into the first round.

    • withseidelinn - Apr 2, 2014 at 3:59 PM

      Who would you suggest as a replacement? (No sarcasm). I would say Brooks Laich but his future with the caps looks pretty uncertain. Not sure who else other than Backstrom.

      • chanceoffleury - Apr 2, 2014 at 5:55 PM

        Perhaps that’s part of the even bigger problem. That Ovechkin is the best “leadership” option on the Caps. Look at the leadership groups, not just the individual captains, but the 5-6 player groups on teams like the Hawks, Pens, Bruins, and Ducks, that really hold that leadership torch. If Toews/Crosby/Chara get traded, it really wouldn’t be *that* weird to see Keith/Malkin/Bergeron with a C. Having strong leadership around your captain is arguably more important than the captain himself. When Toews loses it in the detroit series last year, Seabrook goes into the box in the middle of a game and reminds him that he’s better than that. That they need him. If Ovechkin does that in the playoffs, I can’t really think of anybody on the Caps that comes across as garnering his respect enough to bring him back down.

      • joey4id - Apr 2, 2014 at 6:01 PM

        Chance, if you want to lay the ground work for something bigger, then you need a good foundation. Ovi is not that type of player. Why is that so hard for people to grasp? Yes. Every C should be able to depend on his teammates ability to lead, but that C has to be a leader first and foremost. If he’s not, then the foundation is not stable and therefore cannot build upon it. I’m damn sure no one in Chicago goes above Toews’ head. They rally behind him or side by side, and that can only happen if he is himself a good leader.

      • barkar942 - Apr 2, 2014 at 9:43 PM

        Martin Erat looks like a good captain candidat…..oh wait- they already got rid of him.

    • joey4id - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:19 PM

      If they take the C, then they have to get rid of him, which is why I suggested the buyout, but would prefer something in return, which will be difficult considering his contract doesn’t fit with the value.

      • chanceoffleury - Apr 2, 2014 at 6:10 PM

        The phones would be ringing before the Caps even finished making the announcement. I don’t think the calls would necessarily be from Ovechkins first choices of places to go, but teams in a rebuild with plenty of space wouldn’t be able to put their offers in fast enough. Give it 2 or 3 years and his cap hit is probably gonna be pretty standard for the cream of the crop superstar players, anyway. And like others have said, if the Caps picked up the right players to surround Ovi and cover his weak points this wouldn’t even be as big of an issue.

      • joey4id - Apr 2, 2014 at 6:18 PM

        I completely disagree. Here’s why. If Ovi is not doing his job defensively, and others are asked to cover for him, then, who’s doing their job. You can’t be in 2 places at once. Each player depending on his position must do his job. If he does someone’s job he’s not doing his job, then you have 2 players not doing their jobs. That’s a complete breakdown in the defensive system. No one in their right mind would design a defensive system to cover for the weakness of one player. It is the responsibility of each player to follow the system.

      • capsfan14 - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:35 AM

        In his 9 seasons as a pro, Ovi has only been a minus player three times. He has scored over 400 goals and put up over 800 points. If you’re seriously suggesting a buyout or saying that no team is interested in his contract, you must be insane. He is a liability on defense, sure, but have you been in the caps locker room? Do you have inside information on Ovis leadership? Has any of his current teammates or former teammmates questioned his leadership? You can’t just assume stuff like that, in the eyes of people that actually know hockey, you look like an idiot, and I’m sure you’re not.

      • joey4id - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:47 AM

        You’re right about at least one thing. I’m not an idiot. You don’t have to be in the White House to assess how well a President is doing. It’s bloody clear that you can’t be an effective leader if you’re known for stupid quotes, and for quitting on the back check. How can you lead by example if you can do the basic elements of the game that your coached is asking? Why is it so difficult to accept the fact that he’s not leader material? There’s nothing wrong with not having that ability, because he can bring something else to the team with his offensive talent. Then we have a$$holes like ibie something who can’t bare to see the truth and simply ignore what one of the greatest coaches ever to coach in the NHL said about what it takes to wear the C in the NHL. Are you one of those guys who can ignore what great like Clarke, Bowman, Stevens, Potvin etc… said about what it takes to be a good leader?

    • stakex - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:21 PM

      The amount of goals scored by any of the players on the list doesn’t mean a whole lot.

      Simply put if you think poor defensive play from one winger on a line is going to lead to a complete defensive implosion and a league worst +/-…. you don’t know hockey very well. The goalie, two defensemen, and a center all have more defensive responsibility than Ovechkin and the other wing do. Yes, poor defensive play from the wings can cause problems, and no doubt has contributed to Ovi’s poor +/-, but its hardly the only contributor.

      • joey4id - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:24 PM

        No one is talking about a defensive implosion. If any one player is not doing is job on a given night, then that player is a liability regardless of what position he plays. His piss poor rating is a measure of his constant bad d play, and inability.

      • joey4id - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:26 PM

        Is he consistently bad?

        joey4id – Mar 1, 2014 at 6:42 PM
        How can a talented player have 65 pts and be -18? Carlson who averages more time on ice per game and has played more games than Ovi has 26 pts and has a better plus/minus rating. Hmmmm!

    • blomfeld - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:49 PM

      AHEM …

      Is it just me, or does anyone else notice that there isn’t a single member of a ‘certain’ NHL team on Brough’s list of furtive leeches ? …


      • kingcobraman - Apr 3, 2014 at 1:28 PM

        wake up old man former cup champs….

  2. goodolejr - Apr 2, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    NONE of those players listed cracked the 20 goal mark, yet Ovi STILL has the worst +/-. I hate that stat but gee wiz that’s terrible.

  3. patthehockeyfan - Apr 2, 2014 at 3:45 PM

    “Look, we all know plus-minus is a seriously flawed statistic.”

    True. But take a look at the fact that most of their teams are out, or nearly out, of the playoff picture. Flawed statistic or not, it says more than just about the individual player.

  4. tss29 - Apr 2, 2014 at 3:51 PM

    Another classic statistical year for Ovi. Tons of goals and nothing else…… He should be a lock for the “MVP” trophy this year too. Man, he is just a horrible leader.

    • ibieiniid - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:02 PM

      i don’t get where people keep equating horrible defender to horrible leader. never makes any sense to me. i watch most Caps games, and I see a leader there. does that mean he should be captain? not necessarily. but he’s definitely a leader.

      • ibieiniid - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:10 PM

        remember, they said the same thing about Giroux at the beginning of this year. it’s easy to say when a team is losing.

      • joey4id - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:29 PM

        Scotty Bowman

        “Good captains have to have a lot of patience. They have to be able to make decisions based on what’s best for the team, not necessarily what’s best for themselves. And they have to be good leaders who will work hard every day in practice. That is so important, to have someone who is going to lead by example. Beyond that, I always look for someone I can have a relationship with. Your captain is your go-between with the players, and you have to have an open line of communication with that person to be an effective coach. I was very fortunate that I have had some outstanding captains to work with over the years; Steve Yzerman, Mario Lemieux, and Serge Savard just to name a few. Highly respected captains like that don’t come around very often, that’s for sure. Putting the C on natural leaders like that is what sets average teams apart from great ones.”

      • joey4id - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:30 PM

        Bobby Clarke

        “We as the coaching staff made the decision-it was never left up to the players. It’s generally a pretty easy decision. The coach knows who the leader is on the team. There’s a lot of leaders on the team though, so it about choosing the leader with the right personality for the job. Your captain can’t be too quiet and reserved, he’s got to be able to shake things up from time to time. He can be soft spoken and a lead by example kind of a guy, but behind the scenes in the locker room, he’s got to be able to get after guys if need be. The good ones have to be able to speak up and ultimately be responsible for their teammates.”

        Source: “Wearing the “C” Leadership Secrets from Hockey’s Greatest Captains”, by Ross Bernstein

      • joey4id - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:32 PM

        “The best captains possess some intangibles that can only be described as extraordinary. They have the ability to rise to the occasion. It’s in their blood. When the game is on the line, that’s when the captain plays bigger than anybody else. That’s when he earns his paycheck-in crunch time, in the clutch. He’s the guy with ice water in his veins, in overtime of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Need a big goal, a game winner? He’s your guy. If he can’t make and end-to-end rush capped off by the perfect toe-drag, top shelf, back handed wrister, then he’ll deflect it from the point with his teeth. That’s his role. He’s a two-way player that is not afraid to go into the corners or stand in front of the cage.”

        Source: “Wearing the “C” Leadership Secrets from Hockey’s Greatest Captains”, by Ross Bernstein

      • ibieiniid - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:44 PM

        dude, you seriously need to stop quoting the one book about captains you read. it’s super annoying, and honestly, I didn’t even read one of those three comments. i base my opinions on watching, not what books tell me to think.

        more importantly, this isn’t about what a f’ing captain is. i’m talking about a leader. this man leads his team. does he do it like a hockey captain should? probably not. but to say he isn’t a leader is ignorant.

      • ibieiniid - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:45 PM

        the fact that OV’s team has slumped as hard as his defense had should show you what kind of leader he is. followers follow their leader whether it’s up or down, and right now it’s down. he has an immense control over the product the Caps put on the ice as a team, and I don’t see how you could possibly dispute that.

      • joey4id - Apr 2, 2014 at 11:23 PM

        I come to the conclusion that you’re an idiot, and you have the same hockey IQ as Ovi. You can’t tell the difference between a floater and a leader. You’re ignorant and a waste. Moron.

  5. molsonexport - Apr 2, 2014 at 3:51 PM

    “Ovechtrick.” When one’s rating is a minus 3 during a game.

    • chanceoffleury - Apr 2, 2014 at 7:04 PM

      My dad and I use the term of” an Ovi Hattrick” for any player that scores a hattrick but is still a minus for the game overall. Sort of like a Gordie Howe Hattrick but with the dubious honor of shame that comes along with it.

  6. killerpgh - Apr 2, 2014 at 3:52 PM

    AO still has a way to catch the season leader for worst +/-. The worst plus-minus rating for a single season was in the 1974-75 season by another Capital’s player Bill Mikkelson with a -82.

    • patthehockeyfan - Apr 2, 2014 at 3:58 PM

      I read earlier in the season that Mikkelson still checks statistics waiting (hoping) that someone will take that dubious honor from him.

    • ibieiniid - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:04 PM

      Similarly, Phil Mickelson shot a -82 in a tourney this weekend. (no, not really)

    • cofran2004 - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:06 PM

      That means he was on the ice for a goal against per game… now THAT’S impressive (Unless they played more/less games back then. Im getting ready to leave work for the day, I don’t have time for research).

      • letsgolightning - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:30 PM

        80 game season, so close enough. Those caps went 8-67-5 with a -265 goal differential. Their “average” game was a loss by over 3 goals.

    • pfhockey - Apr 2, 2014 at 7:54 PM

      Yeah but that year I believe the caps (8-67-5) were the worst team to have ever played on the ice in the NHL. Not to mention the scoring may have been significantly higher back then. AO has no excuse whatsoever, 48 goals and a minus 36? That’s just terrible defense even if it is just a stat it’s clear as day Ovi’s D is subpar.

  7. pastabelly - Apr 2, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    It’s a chicken and egg argument. Successful teams have players that can both score and defend. Great players need to do more than just put the puck in the net.

    • jpelle82 - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:10 PM

      every team has those players…they are on the 2nd and 3rd line usually or they compliment a superstar on the 1st line. so gretzky isnt a great player in your book? he played 0 defense, he was terrible and his coach told him dont even bother…and he had jari kurri playing with him who could defend. after a goal went off his stick into his own net gretzky was actually quoted “thats the last time i will backcheck”. what is your point anyway? lobbying for bergeron again? we get it…

  8. jpelle82 - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    keith yandle…yikes. 51 pts as a defensman and still -25? really bad. most of those pts must be on the powerplay…only explanation on a good defensive team like that.

  9. hosewater2 - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:02 PM

    Wow great story here. End of the season, can you believe there are “minus” players out there?

  10. bwayblueshirt - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:03 PM

    Holy crap. 72 points and yet he’s -36. That’s amazing. Is he shooting at the wrong net? I know he’s not a defensive-minded guy, but that’s just staggering. That means he’s been on the ice for at least 108 goals against, probably more. Assuming a margin of about 10 goals he’s been on the ice for but didn’t get a point for, he’s been out for more than one out of every two goals the Caps have let in this year.

    • patthehockeyfan - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:08 PM

      As a friend of mine wrote in his blog last month:

      “And it certainly appears that when the puck is in the defensive zone, Ovechkin suddenly decides that the little Gatorade stain on his sleeve is the most important crisis in the building. One would suspect that Washington goalies dread being able to see the whites of his eyes.”

      Truth is, I like Ovie, his defensive skills (if there are any) notwithstanding. Future HOFer.

    • JoeAvg - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:27 PM

      No it just means he scores his goals with the man advantage instead of at even strength. Take away Oates’ awesome powerplay strategy and he’s probably having a run-of-the-mill season.

      • pfhockey - Apr 2, 2014 at 8:09 PM

        I agree with JoeAvg, if there’s anything Oates can do, it’s the powerplay.

  11. hookersdontsnuggle - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:06 PM

    What a surprise.. a bunch of euros

  12. thailer35 - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:08 PM

    Anyone that knows Yandle’s game would not be surprised to see him on this list…

  13. willrad00 - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:13 PM

    I think it bears mentioning there’s a difference between a “bad defensive player” and what Ovi is. Duchene on the avalanche often gets beat out of corners in the d zone because he over commits and gets caught on the outside to much.

    Ovechkin is a bad defensive player because he doesn’t wanna move his feet fast enough to pick up his man or he’s to worried about scoring goals to make the smart play. That’s why I think Ovi is a bad leader. It’s not necessarily that he lacks defensive skill, but the fact that he won’t even put in the effort to make the defensive play.
    Just my opinion

  14. stakex - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:17 PM

    On the surface its a bit shocking to see Ovechkin leading the league in the minus category. He’s the best goal scorer in the league, and despite all the complaints about hit defensive play he’s generally been a plus player during his career (+46 for his career, including this season). Looking at the stats though, its far less shocking. Ovechkin’s lack of defense aside, the Capitals on the whole have some serious issues. They are ranked 25th in goals allowed, which is obviously not all Ovechkin’s fault. They are also ranked 25th in even strength goal ratio, meaning that a lot of their goal scoring is coming on the power play…. which isn’t good for +/-.

    In fact, Ovechkin and his line mates are really cold 5v5. 22 of Ovi’s 48 goals are on the power play, as are 14 of his 24 assists. On top of that Backstrom, who has been Ovi’s center most of the season, only has 9 even strength goals… and most of his assists are on the power play as well. None of the rotating left wingers that have played with them scored much at even strength either. Its a serious issue for the Caps, and not just their top line.

    Simply put, its really hard to keep a decent +/- when your team as a whole gives up a lot of goals, and doesn’t score much 5 on 5. Obviously Ovechkin can be a lot better on defense, but to say his -36 is all his fault when there are 5 other guys on the ice for ever goal against is a serious stretch. The Caps need better 5 on 5 play all around, and it wouldn’t hurt if they could find a goalie that could stop a puck from time to time.

    • joey4id - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:39 PM

      Problem with your analysis is that you’re purely looking at statistics. Assess the consequences of having the franchise player, the captain no less, unable to lead by example. Coach is asking all the players to be accountable defensively, to play within the system because it only takes on player on the ice to screw up the d system that can lead to a goal. The coach expects the guy wearing the C to help toe the line, but, it so happens that he himself is not toeing the line. Any idea what sort of effect this has on the rest of the team? No…. because you never played hockey at a level to understand… Ok! I get that. Don’t take it from me…. Can you take from Scott Stevens?

      Scott Stevens, Captained the Devils to four Stanley Cup Finals appearances in nine years, winning three of them.

      “As far as motivating guys, I was willing to do whatever it took to get through to them. The bottom line for me was that I just hated to lose. If things weren’t going well with the team, the best way for me to get a guy’s attention in practice. I was a firm believer that practice was where you developed good habits and where you prepared for the competition ahead. So, if I felt that one of my teammates wasn’t pulling his weight, I might address him in the practice. I might get angry and throw some big checks at his way or even try to get in there and mix it up with him, so that I could get his attention. That was my job as the captain, to make sure everybody was on the same page and that everybody was pulling his own weight. That was one of the ways I would show my feelings when thing were good or when things weren’t so good.”

      Source: “Wearing the “C” Leadership Secrets from Hockey’s Greatest Captains”, by Ross Bernstein

      • blomfeld - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:54 PM

        YOU TELL ‘EM JOEY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

      • joey4id - Apr 3, 2014 at 11:19 AM

        I swear, blomfeld, there are so many idiots here. They would disagree with greatest minds to have ever played or coached the game because they have never lived. Pucking mind blowing….. Inability to learn from others who’ve been there, and too proud to admit they are wrong. Are they all morons? Or, are they ignorant adults? More here than I care to interact with……. Oy vey!

      • wingsdjy - Apr 3, 2014 at 3:58 PM

        It’s not the message people disagree with, it’s the delivery.

    • tridecagon - Apr 2, 2014 at 5:32 PM

      Have you ever played the game? One guy not doing his job on defense can absolutely destroy the defensive system and lead to oodles of goals.

  15. ctcork - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:25 PM

    Ovechkin’s lack of defensive effort doesn’t really surprise me anymore

  16. csilojohnson - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:28 PM

    Opinions not nessesary when there is video evidence. Or “the” gif.
    Like you said. His pitiful leadership skills are defined by his lack of effort. Not lack of ability. Dont really see any arguement to be made otherwise.

  17. csilojohnson - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:29 PM

    Raging debate? where?

  18. storminator16 - Apr 2, 2014 at 9:36 PM

    This list needs more Staal.

  19. barkar942 - Apr 2, 2014 at 9:45 PM

    Trade him to Vancouver. Then the media will really have something to cover with Ovie playing for Torts!

  20. watermelon1 - Apr 3, 2014 at 3:20 AM

    PERHAPS…. Just maybe… The reason Ovechkin has such a bad minus rating is because….

    They have HORRIBLE defense, and the goaltending isn’t much better.

    Mike green and John Carlson can’t be gone soon enough.

    You think Ovechkin is too busy playing offense? Saving his energy on defense? Mike green is supposed to be a defender before anything else yet he’s the one rushing up ice to take horrible shots and turn the puck over at the blue line with horrible passes.

    You take Crosby or whoever else and switch them out with Ovechkin… And caps still suck and Ovechkin’s prayers are answered.

    • joey4id - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:51 AM

      Then why isn’t every player on the Caps at the very bottom of the +/- list? No one else has scored as many goals as he had……

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