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Is Caps star Alex Ovechkin a dirty player? Pattern includes incident with Lightning



The two-game suspension to Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin for a knee-to-knee hit on Carolina's Tim Gleason got me thinking back to the incident in January when Ovechkin hit Tampa Bay defenseman Jamie Heward from behind and into the Verizon Center glass. The resulting concussion ended Heward's career.

I know Heward and Ovechkin have cleared the air, and Heward, who said he still counts his former teammate as his friend, said he put himself in a vulnerable position on a hit he did not consider dirty. But Ovechkin, it seems, has a troubling pattern of being involved in these situations, and my question is, has his reputation changed from simply a hard-nosed guy who loves to play?

Do you think Ovechkin is a dirty player?

On Nov. 25 Ovechkin was given a game misconduct for hitting Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta from behind. Last spring he caught Pittsburgh's Sergei Gonchar with a knee-to-knee hit. Add the Heward incident, and you have a player involved in an inordinate amount of questionable plays.

"How can you tell me, like, you just have to stop playing how you play," Ovechkin told Washington reporters. "I play risky. I don't try a dirty hit, make some people get hurt. But sometimes people just turn back or turn right away, so I don't have time to realize and stop. What can you do? You can't do nothing."

For what it's worth, Ovechkin said he regretted the hit on Gleason. He said the same about the hit on Heward. Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau called Ovechkin "reckless," but told Washington reporters, "It's hard to tell a guy who scores 60 goals a year to change the way he plays. At the same time you don't want to see him getting hurt. Maybe he needs to pick his spots a little better. I just don't want him to put himself in harm's way. I don't think anything being said will change the way he plays."

All due respect, seems Ovechkin's opponents are the ones in harms way, a pattern difficult to ignore.   

[Last modified: Friday, January 1, 2010 12:15am]


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