A lot of time has been spent in D.C. (and the NHL world at-large) debating and speculating — all the while engaged in perhaps some hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing (who knows?) regarding the precipitous drop in ice time of the Washington Capitals’ shrinking violet of a Russian superstar, Alexander Ovechkin.
Down a game to the New York Rangers headed into Game 2 on Monday inside the hostile environs of Madison Square Garden, Capitals head coach Dale Hunter apparently had an unorthodox plan and he stuck with it: he limited Ovie’s time on the ice to a paltry 13 minutes and 36 seconds, the lowest ice time total for a playoff game in Ovechkin’s career. Hunter seemingly feels that the team is better off without Ovechkin on the ice given his defensive-minded approach and prefers to use arguably the team’s most skilled player in more specialized situations.
And, as you know, the rest is history. Hunter’s gambit paid off — for at least one game — as Ovie buried a laser of a power play goal with 7:27 remaining in the 3rd period to put the Caps up 3-2, which Washington held on for a series-tying victory.
So, how does Ovechkin feel about being snubbed by his coach, at least as far as his ice time is concerned?
Via The Washington Post:
“You have to suck it up and use time what Dale is giving to me,” Ovi said Monday night in the visitors’ locker room at Madison Square Garden. “It’s most important thing right now, guys, just win the series and win the game. If you gonna talk about my game time and all that kind of stuff, it’s not a season — it’s the playoffs. How I said before, you have to suck it up and play for team.”
Well put, and just what you would expect Ovechkin to say, even if that’s not exactly how he feels. In fact, he likely feels exactly the opposite, but a canned statement after a victory is preferable to creating the perception that he is a selfish, disgruntled star.
But the entire point of this discussion is to highlight the below statement Ovie made following his “team-first” comments above:
“Sometimes you just have to put eye in your butt and, you know, play for everybody.”
Huh. Truer words never have been spoken, as if one was able to put one’s one eye in one’s butt, my thought is a hockey player wouldn’t have the time nor the inclination to worry about how much ice time he’s getting. He’d be more concerned with how to get his eye out of his butt, not to mention how he managed to pull that trick off in the first place.
I suppose all that’s left to say is, “In Russia, butt eyes you!” Or something.