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New Caps regime plans to keep Ovechkin at RW (for now)

Jul 23, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

Alex Ovechkin, Victor Hedman AP

The Washington Capitals seem open-minded about eventually moving Alex Ovechkin back to his original spot at left wing, but for now they’re sticking with former head coach Adam Oates’ decision to keep him on the right side.

That’s what new head coach Barry Trotz and new GM Brian MacLellan shared with the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman in his final 30 Thoughts Column before the 2014-15 season kicks into gear.

Then again, the wording seems like they’re doing so almost with a shoulder shrug more than an emphatic statement.

7. So, is Alex Ovechkin a right-winger or a left-winger? “He’s a right-winger in the defensive zone who can cross-over to the left side offensively,” said Capitals GM Brian MacLellan. “I’ll start him on the right, but we know he can play left,” said coach Barry Trotz. “For sake of simplicity, let’s start that way.”

It will be interesting to see how long Trotz might stick with that plan. Could he shift the 28-year-old back if he doesn’t like what he’s seeing in training camp? Will it be more of a 10 or 20-game audition?

Ultimately, it’s probably more important that Trotz pushes the right button with Ovechkin.

It’s anyone’s call how well that might shake out. Trotz seems to be taking an interesting “tough love + understanding” approach with the star scorer, noting to Friedman that “Players may whine about structure and accountability, but at the end of day they want that.”

Actually, what the Capitals might really want is stability. The franchise seems like it’s been suffering rom a serious identity crisis ever since Jaroslav Halak and then Montreal Canadiens upset them in the 2010 playoffs, so a clear direction might be the most important thing of all.

That said, they could also ask the guy which position he prefers and give Ovechkin a chance to prove that he deserves to stay where he wants. Just a thought, though.

  1. lowenni - Jul 23, 2014 at 9:06 AM

    Watching him almost every game last year I want them to move him back to left. He had his best years and chemistry with Backstrom during his years as a LW, and he still diverts over there during offensive zone time anyways. If he’s going to try and float over there to get open for a one timer or to shoot on his off side then may as well start each shift on that side. I know he was switched because he ‘grew predictable’ on the left and had two down years, but he played without Backstrom for much of that. Moving him back could unleash his 90+ point potential again. Put him on the left.

    • jpelle82 - Jul 23, 2014 at 9:53 AM

      he gets all his points on the pp from the same spot on top of the circle on the left side anyway so why does it really matter?

      • bmoreredfury311 - Jul 23, 2014 at 2:00 PM

        Not true at all. Look up the stats stats. Yes last year the majority was PP but not “all”. Plus it was a team effort to suck on 5 on 5

    • vladdrac69 - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:26 AM

      Played without Backstrom for much of two years? When? Those two have played almost exclusively together for 6 years or so.

      • dipthatchip - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:42 AM

        There was a revolving door at 1C of Ribeiro, Laich, MoJo, and for some godawful reason Beagle for 2011-13. Not to mention Backstrom missed 3 months from Rene Borque’s cheap shot in 2012.

        So yeah, you’re wrong

    • blomfeld - Jul 23, 2014 at 11:25 AM

      “The franchise seems like it’s been suffering ‘rom’ a serious identity crisis” …

      So apparently the problem isn’t Ovi but rather it’s due to ‘read only memory’ ? Well that’s pretty encouraging eh ? At least we know now that Ovechkin can actually read !

      ME LIKE POWER PLAY !!! :)

  2. phtjoey - Jul 23, 2014 at 9:12 AM

    The only truth about Ovi is that he is now and may go down in hockey history as THE only enigmatic “madoffian” fraud to have laced the skates and failed to justify his fat paycheck. Left, right, center…….. it’s all fraudulent…..

    • govtminion - Jul 23, 2014 at 9:19 AM

      I won’t even try defending the Caps’ lack of success with him, but… I’m pretty sure those Richard trophies aren’t fakes. He’s definitely not a perfect player, but he scores goals… rather than expecting more out of him, the team needs to focus more on finding people to do these other roles as well. Blasting the guy for being useless and overpaid is nice, but it only tells part of the story.

      • valoisvipers - Jul 23, 2014 at 9:26 AM

        -35 Nuf said.

      • govtminion - Jul 23, 2014 at 9:39 AM

        Which feels like an odd balance compared to that Richard trophy, but… there it is anyway. The guy scores goals, like I said. He’s not great at a lot of other things- that’s what the rest of the team is for.

        I don’t recall people lighting Pavel Bure on fire for being the same kind of player- maybe it’s that he often had a better team around him to cover for his deficiencies, and just let the guy go score goals in buckets.

      • therealjr - Jul 23, 2014 at 1:58 PM

        If you are going to hang +/- on a player, he was +45 when the TEAM won the President’s Trophy.

        Also of note, Brett Hull scored 40 goals eight times and was only twice a plus player in those seasons. Had a similar -27 one year when scoring 54 on a pretty bad Blues team.

        We’ll see what six competent NHL defensemen do for the team and +/- as a whole. Of course there is usually room for improvement on the defensive side for an elite offensive player, but if you think your scoring RW1 is driving the team defense, you’d be wrong.

    • bmoreredfury311 - Jul 23, 2014 at 2:02 PM

      Oh joey you sad little man.

  3. valoisvipers - Jul 23, 2014 at 9:16 AM

    It really doesn’t matter what position he is assigned, Ovi will just be near the face-off circle with his stick in the air anyways.

  4. capsnbohs23 - Jul 23, 2014 at 9:25 AM

    It amazes me every time an Ovi article comes up there are trolls who say the exact same thing as they said in the previous article. Do you people think we have Alzheimer’s? We get it, you hate him primarily because he is a Russian and there is nothing he could ever do to please the trolls.

    • govtminion - Jul 23, 2014 at 9:54 AM

      Wait… he’s Russian? Really?

      Man, screw that guy. 😉

      • capsnbohs23 - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:58 AM

        They are all spies trying to start another cold war i tell ya!

  5. valoisvipers - Jul 23, 2014 at 9:32 AM

    If he played a little defense that would keep the trolls at bay but we all know neither will happen.

    • patthehockeyfan - Jul 23, 2014 at 9:38 AM

      If he played a little defense that would keep the trolls at bay

      Nope. Even if he did, you’d still be here.

      • valoisvipers - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:47 AM

        Troll or no troll so please enlighten me to how I am wrong or this this just a bad time of month?

    • phtjoey - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:06 AM

      valoisvipers = credible source. trolls don’t speak the truth.

      • patthehockeyfan - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:10 AM

        “trolls don’t speak the truth.”

        … writes troll #2

      • phtjoey - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:15 AM

        FU. stay away…..

      • patthehockeyfan - Jul 23, 2014 at 11:07 AM

        And joey dazzles us with his knowledge.

        Of the alphabet.

      • phtjoey - Jul 23, 2014 at 11:21 AM

        Seriously, Pat. Stop throwing stones. Just move one and stay away from any of my posts. I care for you as much as I care for those who took down MH17.

  6. hockey412 - Jul 23, 2014 at 9:49 AM

    Why does ravanator never comment on these Caps articles? I enjoy his insight so much, but it only occurs on Pens articles, which is strange.

    • JoeAvg - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:00 AM

      I know what you’re implying and it does seem to say that he’s a Pen’s fan trying to make Caps fans look bad. My brain tells me that nobody could be that pathetic – but then I look outside the window…..

  7. westof1club - Jul 23, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    Always love checking in to see butthurt Canadians & Americans railing on this guy, mostly because they can’t stand to see a Russian consistently beating “their boys” at anything. Kudos Ovi, tear it up again

    • phtjoey - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:09 AM

      who have the caps and Ovi beaten in the playoffs this year? what? they didn’t make the playoffs you say…..

      • govtminion - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:14 AM

        Nope. Sure didn’t. Sucks, huh?

        Yep… neither did Phil Kessel, Shea Weber, Jaromir Jagr, the Sedin brothers, Jason Spezza, Roberto Luongo, or a host of other good players. So should we roast them equally? Or is it okay for them to come up short on a playoff run because they aren’t Ovechkin?

  8. phtjoey - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:18 AM

    wow! are you serious? actually comparing and over the hill Jagr to Ovi. Speeza? Sedins? Kessel? a d man and a goalie…… whoa!

    • discountdoublecheck - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:30 AM

      (I read the ‘whoa’ on your comment at the exact moment the ‘whoaaa’ chorus on 311’s Amber was on the radio. What a crazy coincidence maaannnnn!)

      Hate all you want, Ovi is going to go down as an all time great scorer. Some players are two way players…some aren’t. It isn’t ideal and in many ways it is indeed a shame, but it would appear Ovi is not one of them. Get over it. Harping on +/- won’t change the good #’s.

    • govtminion - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:56 AM

      And in this case, the comparison is that all of them missed the 2014 playoffs. So, yes, I’m making that comparison. None are bad players- all are in fact very good players, stars in their own right, and all were done after the first week of April- just like Ovechkin was. Should we be blasting them for being awful failures as well? Or is it possible that maybe, just like Ovechkin, they’re great players on what ended up being bad teams?

      • phtjoey - Jul 23, 2014 at 11:19 AM

        Non of the players you mentioned cost their teams as many goals as Ovi because of their inability to play very basic hockey without the puck.

  9. orangandblack - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    “What’s this defensive zone you speak of”. -Alex Ovechkin

  10. patthehockeyfan - Jul 23, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    Ok, PHT. I’m asking now.

    Can you do a daily Ovechkin post? You don’t have to write anything. Just a headline and photo.

    phtjoey, valoisvipers and blomfeld can spend their day trading Ovi-bashing comments. You need a photo so that blomfeld can criticize Ovi’s looks/appearance. phtjoey can continue to compare him to Bernie Madoff, and valoisvipers can type his little fingers off repeating -35, -35, -35.

    • govtminion - Jul 23, 2014 at 11:16 AM

      “Welcome to The PHT Troll Reservation. Please do not feed the animals.”

    • valoisvipers - Jul 23, 2014 at 11:21 AM

      Hell has no fury like a women scorned but you must admit that he does look like a caveman.

  11. phtjoey - Jul 23, 2014 at 11:46 AM

    Ovi is a great goal scorer, furious body checking machine, posses excellent hand-eye co-ordination and has one of the best shots in the NHL. However, he is lazy, and refuses to play within the limits of the team’s system, and he does so as one of the best paid player of the league. There in lies the fraud. He would be one of the greatest ever to have played the game if he was committed to be the best overall player and lead by example. He’s been an enigma for each of the coaches who have passed through the revolving doors. Bonne chance, messieur Trotz.

    • bmoreredfury311 - Jul 23, 2014 at 2:11 PM

      Joey, the broken record and bandwagon kings fan.

  12. watermelon1 - Jul 23, 2014 at 3:45 PM

    Doesn’t really matter what position he lines up in for the face off.

    Worry about something that makes a difference like… Can you get rid of mike green before the season starts?

    Ovechkin will score goals and hit hard. Question is, as always, can the Caps play even a smidge of defense and not let guys stand unguarded right in front of their net minder.

    • govtminion - Jul 23, 2014 at 4:10 PM

      Well, I mean that’s what they brought in Orpik for- to do that for about 40 games in between injuries… and Niskanen, I mean he actually is pretty good… I think they’ll be BETTER defensively this year, if not particularly great. My question is whether they can win faceoffs now that they’ve lost their #2 center (again!), and whether Holtby can stop pucks regularly enough to steal games. I’m not as worried about the second part (he’s streaky, but talented) as I am about the first.

  13. blomfeld - Jul 24, 2014 at 12:57 AM


    and with any luck friends, it ‘will’ be soon ! :)

    *** excerpt from an interview which I had earlier today with the Sports Desk @ The Tianjin News ***

    Lai Gung: comrade Blomfeld, what are the odds of Coach Trotz putting up with Ovechkin’s parasitism ?

    Blomfeld: probably slim to none … in fact, I see him now finally facing his Waterloo …

    Lai Gung: and what about your Canadian friends, comrades Joey & Valoisvipers ?

    Blomfeld: they’re both ‘good’ men who ‘know’ what they’re talking about !

    Lai Gung: indeed they do ! … say Blommy, what are you doing later ?

    Blomfeld: baby, I’m taking you out for a drink !

    Lai Gung: oh my, I never thought you’d ask ? … tee hee hee :)


    executive summary: 2014-15 will be Ovechkin’s ‘final’ season as a Washington Capital

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