All-Star Ovechkin?

So, Alexander Ovechkin has decided to skip the NHL All-Star game because he was suspended right before it.

Now, I have to admit that in the whole Crosby/Ovechkin debate I was solidly on Ovechkin’s side, which might be considered heresy (I hope Don Cherry doesn’t read that I was passing over the good Canadian kid for the Russian). But the main reason for that was that Ovechkin seemed to love the game and have a strong zest for life that was nice to see, if not to share. Crosby was always more measured, which is fine but made him less entertaining than Ovechkin. Ovechkin celebrated his goals and goals by his teammates with the same enthusiasm that indicated a great enthusiasm for the game.

So it’s no surprise that he was the one who made the shoot-out competition at the All-Star Game an event instead of just a show of skill, and no surprise that at last year’s draft he was the one filming and laughing at and with the last player to be selected.

But this is disappointing. Ovechkin comes off like someone in a snit as opposed to someone who’s interested in the game. Even his GM’s patch-up of “He doesn’t think he deserves to be there” doesn’t work when Ovechkin’s first reply is that he doesn’t feel like being there and that reply is the after-thought in his discussions.

Now, Ovechkin’s performance has also dropped over the past few seasons, and my worry is this: with the suspensions and with the change in style of play and even with other teams making huge efforts to contain him, Ovechkin might no longer be as enthusiastic about the game. So all of this might simply be a reflection that he doesn’t find the game fun anymore. He can’t play the way he wants to play and win or even keep from being suspended, and this whole incident just drives home for him that hockey’s not as much fun anymore. Maybe it’s turning into just a job for him.

If it is, that’s probably a problem, as it seems to me that most of his success came from his not thinking of it as just a job. So it would be unfortunate for everyone if he ends up that way.

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