Friday, January 02, 2009

Dirty Ovi?

Let me preface this by saying that I only saw highlights of Ovechkin's hit on ESPN and this morning. I was at a wedding yesterday that managed to suck all the hockey out of my New Year's Day.

But reading the recaps and articles on Alex Ovechkin's hit on former Capital Jamie Heward, I couldn't help but wonder what kind of punishment is heading Ovi's way. No penalty was assessed on the play at the time and the league is reviewing the hit.

Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Rick Tocchet didn't think the hit was premetetated. "It's a tough one because consistently they're calling anything [involving] heads, a blow to the head," Tocchet told reporters following the game. "I don't think Ovechkin intentionally was trying to hurt him and be dirty. We were just asking if he left his feet a little bit."

Ovechkin was following the puck around the boards and Heward was in front of him. Whether the puck had stopped along the dashers or if Heward was trying to get it back to behind his own goal is uncertain as the action was against the near boards and you couldn't really see what happened puck-wise. Heward turned hunched over trying to play the puck, Ovi didn't play the puck but went for the hit. Heward's head was crunched between Ovechkin and the boards. He then laid motionless on the ice as trainers rushed to help.

The hit, looked innocent enough. Except for the fact that Heward was on the ice in a heap. It didn't look to me that Ovi left his feet, but he definitely went for the hit. With the NHL cracking down on head hits, should Ovechkin be facing punishment?

In my opinion, sure. Ovechkin's hit was unintentional, but Ovi is not above the game. If we are talking about Doug Weight facing punishment for his hit on Brandon Sutter, then how can we not bring up the fact that Ovi might face a fine as well. Do I expect Ovi to miss games? No, but a fine could be in order.

I don't really thing Alex Ovechkin or Jamie Heward did anything wrong, it is hockey and hard, physical hitting is apart of the game. So are injuries. Ovechkin is also known for his physical side, just ask the plethra of defenseman that have battled for a puck in the corner against Ovi. And sometimes that hit can hurt, just like Chris Pronger's monster hits on smaller forwards or Scott Stevens hitting anybody, star or not.

But I do think that players need to think twice when they go for a hit. To hit with respect if you will. Players need to recognize when the opposing player is more vunerable to an injury before they smash their head into the boards. I am not saying that is going to be easy, especially with the speed of the game where it is.

Capitals move on from here and keep their monster 12 point lead on the southeast division. Not the 21 point lead that Tarik reported on. A math major he is not. Caps start the home stand on a good note, but two very tough teams come to the phone booth in the Rangers and Flyers.

Peerless brings up an intersting point too.

Photo AP, Luis M. Alvarez


Mark Bonatucci said...

Puckhead - I have to ask, do you really think your notions are possible? Your notion that at the speed the NHL is played at a guy skating as fast as Ovie can pull up when another NHL caliber player happens to have his head down or decides to drop it is, IMO, very flawed. Also the idea that Hockey would be a better game, if it were like basketball, that some seem to profess, including at times Commissioner Bettman is also, IMO, very wrong.

I don't wish ill or harm on anyone and my thoughts are with Jamie Heward today, but he was injured playing a game he loved, the way he thought it should be played.

I'm of the personal opnion that neither Ovechkin NOR Doug Weight deserve punishment for their hits. It's Ice Hockey - it's a contact sport. Intentially injuring another should be dealt with severely but when someone is injured in clean contact from a hard hit, you have to consider that part of the game. Pros know that they nbeed to keep their heads upalong the boards, especially that near the corner, it's unfomrtunate that Heward was hurt and concussions are nothing to take lightly, just ask John Erskine and Brian Pothier, but this was a clean hit that was part of the play and no Ovechkin did not leave his feet. If he did anything he slowed but I don't think he did either, he just played the game the way it was meant to be played.

TheScribbler said...

"When play was halted, Ovechkin hurried over to see about his former teammate, who lay on the ice for several minutes before medical personnel got him onto a stretcher."

If it was intentional, he's a good actor.

Punishment should be for intentional injury. After watching the clip it seems to me that Heward has bent over to address the puck and spins around right as Ovie comes in for the hit, and that is why his head is driven straight into the glass. It's kind of a freak thing.

UFCF, please revise your prose, that sentence about basketball is unreadable.

Garrett said...

UFCF - Just like a player can recognize when a play is developing at high speeds, a player could recognize when another player could be more vulnerable. Looking back at the replay, it's a tough call. If Heward plays the puck up the boards, it's out of the zone, no problem. If Heward tries to make the play he did, kabong, he is motionless on the ice. It's a tough game, we don't watch it because it pussy foots around the puck.

Rick - You make a very valid point, determining what is intentional (ala Dale Hunter running down Pierre Turgeon) and what is un intentional. I don't believe that Ovi intentionally went after Heward and fines should be reserved for ne'er do wells.

Anonymous said...

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