NHL Hits Ovechkin With Two-Game Suspension

Capitals star knocked out Campbell

By Jim Iovino
|  Monday, Mar 15, 2010  |  Updated 5:46 PM EDT
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NHL Hits Ovechkin With Two-Game Suspension

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WASHINGTON - JANUARY 05: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals warms up before the game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Verizon Center on January 5, 2010 in Washington, DC. Ovechkin was named captain of the Capitals today. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

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Alex Ovechkin's hit on Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell in Sunday afternoon's game will cost the Caps' superstar two games via suspension.

Campbell, however, could be out much longer -- as in the rest of the season

Ovechkin was kicked out of Sunday's game when he pushed Campbell into the boards behind the Hawks' net. Chicago's All-Star defenseman hit the boards shoulder-first and reportedly broke his clavicle and possibly at least one rib.

Ovechkin was given a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct. This is the second suspension of the season for Ovie, who was suspended two games for kneeing Canes defenseman Tim Gleason in November.

The suspension won't mean much for the Caps, who are comfortably leading not only the Eastern Conference in points, but the whole NHL. The two games will, however, hurt Ovechkin's individual stats as he tries to hang on to the NHL lead in points and tries to regain the lead in goals. His 96 points are three more than Henrik Sedin, and his 44 goals are just one behind Sidney Crosby and two ahead of Steven Stamkos.

But a dark cloud remains over Ovechkin's head after yet another incident resulting from playing with reckless abandon. Is he a dirty player? More talk around the league points to yes, even if that talk may not be warranted.

Ryan Lambert takes a look back at Ovie's history of questionable plays on the Puck Daddy:

He could have gotten one for that hit on Briere a few years ago and the one on Kaleta in November. He blind-sided Dustin Brown away from the play a few years back. Jamie Heward got stretchered off the ice after Ovie hit him from behind. He slew-footed Rich Peverley in October. He's hit Wideman (no video, but here's an article), Gonchar and Gleason knee-to-knee. He shot a puck at Rob Scuderi after the whistle.

Any one, two or even three of those incidents could have been dismissed as Ovechkin's ability to play dominant physical hockey getting a little out of control or maybe emotion getting the best of him. But add up all those incidents. There are nine of them in just a few years, with the majority happening either this season or last.

There's a clear pattern developing.

Gleason, for his part, told the Washington Post last week that he has no problems with Ovechkin's aggressive style of play.

TSN's Ray Ferraro on the other hand, said he's all for tough, physical play, but he wants players to be held accountable for "thoughtlessness."

It's not like Ovechkin has a squeaky clean record. He got off light last year with his hit on Sergei Gonchar of the Penguins. If Ovechkin gets his shoulder in front of Campbell, fine - run him into the wall. But there is absolutely no defending yourself when you are pushed that close to the boards.

At least one of his teammates, however, believes Ovie should tone down the aggressiveness. Linemate Mike Knuble told the Washington Post that Ovechkin should take it easy, if only for his own health and well-being.

"He has the reputation that he plays hard," Knuble told the Post. "But things seem to be happening around him. You would like to see him being more careful because, number one, you don't want to see him hurt himself and, number two, so he doesn't miss games -- for our benefit."

So where does this leave Ovechkin? In reality, he's in the same spot he was in before taking out Campbell -- minus two games worth of paychecks (a total of more than $232,000).

Ovie will continue to play his style of game. It's a style he believes will help his team win the Stanley Cup.  

Don't expect this incident to change the Russian Machine. That will -- and should -- be left up to his opponents on the ice.

Keep your head up, Ovie. The number of teams wanting payback just increased by one.

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