A) Ovi's average shift time, as with the rest of the Capitals is shorter than ever - and it's a product as I see it of the new system that EVERYONE on the Capitals including the Captain Alexander Ovechkin buys into. Which I at least have always thought was a trait associated with being "coachable" though I admit and point out that is a "second order" relationship. I offer the "Event Summary" from the Edmonton game and suggest if you or even better Glenn Healy before he spouts off inaccurate "stuff" again examine ANY of the other 5 games statistics of real data available for 2014-15 Season. If you don't want to click the link and read it in Edmonton Ovi played 22 shifts in the game with an average shift length including the 2:11 TOI he had on the PP of 53. 73 seconds; his average shift legnth has been tracking, similar and shorter than the other two forwards on his line (Backstrom and either Fehr or Brouwer) throughout the season; further reinforcing to me that he is indeed playing the system as desired by his coaches. The only difference on this last game is Ovi only had 2 SOG and 5 attempts vice more in earlier games. Of course a guy who's shooting percentage so far this season is markedly higher than it has been over his earlier career might be also changing where he shoots from and how many SOG he takes when he isn't in those higher percentage areas, of course that's just speculation on my part, and probably NOT something a "dumb" player with awards like a Hart Trophy would think to do.....
B) As far as loosing the room and/or other reasons why either Glen Hanlon, Bruce Boudreau, or Adam Oates were replaced as Caps coach, sure the easy thing to do is point to Ovi's big contract and role as Captain and say he's the reason. However, as a guy who's been focused on the Capitals through Ovechkin's entire career to date I feel otherwise and point to the following:
- Glen Hanlon: Hanlon was replaced in November 2007, Ovehkin's current contract was signed in January 2008. While some could say perhaps Ovi was the reason Hanlon was fired and the driver is/was Ovi's current contract, to me at best that's a third order relationship. Perhaps Ovi then playing under his entry level contract, and his team of advisors that does include his Mother (a two time Gold Medalist and former Commissioner of a women's pro basketball league, who probably knows something about winning formulae, was saying that among other things he did not think Hanlon didn't seem to be the coach to reach that level, but clearly there were other things they wanted before hitching Alex's star to the Capitals for what was likely his entire career. Further there were a lot of other current and former players who had issues with Hanlon's playing not to loose system.
- Bruce Boudreau: Come on? All on Ovi? Really if you feel that you really didn't follow the Capitals. I agree that letting Boudreau go wasn't a smart move or answer to the Caps woes when it happened, but he had lost over "half" the room if I can read between the line. I'll also agree that Ovi was indeed one of the guys Boudreau lost. I don't know why but I'll guess that Boudreau wanted to change up his system slightly - a system that in the regular season had frankly served Boudreau, Ovechkin and the entire team well, and Ovechkin was saying Hey, Coach Why Mess With Success? Instead of okay lets tweak things. That said I'll bet just as Trotz's "leadership group" is a way for him to manage things and different, and Ovi is clearly responding differently to things like this now, Boudreau handled things like this differently since he arrived in Anaheim. So I guess I am saying I agree if you want to say Alexander Ovechkin is one of the reasons Boudreau was fired but he wasn't the only reason.
- Dale Hunter: Again come on. Hunter wasn't the right guy. He is like a King and Dictator in London and he likes it that way. He was never going to be happy in the NHL as a coach. As soon as he realized it was going to take a couple of years to get the Stanley Cup as a Coach he was going to insist whoever was GM do things his way as much as he was going to tell his star player, especially a non-North American player to shut up, sit down, and block shots first and foremost. I'm betting the entire room, except for a few of the guys who played for him in London, grimaced every time he talked to them in front of his "Fathead" at KCI. Total transparency here - I am not a lifelong Capitals fan and based on what he did in 1993 and I could never fault any hockey player for having trouble respecting the guy who did this. No to me Ovechkin wasn't the reason Hunter isn't the coach today - I'm betting he asked for some aspect of control, driven by his ego, that neither Leonsis or McPhee wanted to give a guy capable of being that out of control.
- Adam Oates: Look Oates is a Hall of Famer and in his first half of season as Caps coach I think him moving Ovi to right wing worked for both of them and made Ovi a better player so how does that make Ovechkin "uncoachable"? Bottom line is the way last season ended lost Oates and McPhee their jobs and put this entire team, including Ovechkin, "on probation." Anyone who thinks, says, or writes otherwise is NOT looking at the big picture. Clearly from the off-season moves the Capitals ORGANIZATION realized the blueline needed more focus, both in the system being played AND the personnel playing it. Further a decision seems to have also been made, rightly so, IMO, that a winning team in the post season needed to play more of a "Western Conference" type game and say what you will but to me, Oates' system was more an Eastern Conference, tweaked New Jersey Devils approach to hockey than Trotz brings from his long tenure in "Smashville." Finally post season comments by guys that include very stoic, clearly team players like Karl Alzner make me believe a LOT of post season discussions between ownership and players would have only further solidified a belief it was time for a change in both the GM AND the coaches offices here in DC.
Healy played 15 NHL seasons and 437 NHL games as a NHL goaltender and managed a career 0.888 SV% a 3.37 GAA and 166 wins. Contrast that to Ovi's career to date 9 NHL seasons, 678 games played, 422 goals, 392 assists, 3 World Championships (+ a silver and 2 bronzes) and yes NO Stanley Cups or Olympic Gold Medals, yet. Also Six (6) time first team and three (3) time second team NHL All Star; Calder Trophy, Hart Trophy (MVP) - 3X; Art Ross Trophy (2008) and Richard Trophy (four times). Why not buy into Healy's assessments, ignore Ovechkin's current coach's recent statements and the basic facts/contrast of between a long tenured, "average" former NHL player, and one of it's current superstars? Could this just not be a guy like Healy frustrated that a Non-Canadian like Ovi has kids in Edmonton lining up for his autograph and wearing his Jersey and number while often the only guys from Healy's era they remember or have heard about are truly generational players like Gretzky, Messier, etc?
Of course the most ridiculous thing to note is that in spite of all the trash the SI NHL beat writers spew about Ovechkin, he was selected by them as "NHL Player of the Year" in 2013, I'm pretty sure that's the season they now say he was a coach killer to Boudreau and Hunter, showing just what jokes they are as hockey writers, at least to me. And who is the dumb one? I mean isn't it "dumb" to contradict yourselves so loudly and vociferously as they seem to do? Wouldn't a "smart" person, say one with a degree from such a prestigious university as Western Michigan (which ranks academically as 181 per US News and World Report) at least know when to research things and use facts accurately in a debate? I mean even I know there's these things called the Internet and fancy search engines like "Google" to find out actual facts and statistics to use to confirm or refute my suspicions. Then in a debate in front of millions I might actually only use those arguments that are substantiated by facts, I'm pretty sure it was news to Barry Trotz that with a 2-1-2 record he'd been fired this week. Finally yes Ovi's Mother is his agent, per say. Her qualifications - two gold medals in Olympic basketball, and she was the head of a Professional Basketball League and his father was a professional soccer player. So I'm pretty sure when he and they decided they didn't need some former hockey player, likely Canadian, or otherwise or an American or Canadian Lawyer to negotiate his contract with Ted Leonsis, they knew what they were doing, and it looks to me like they had about 12.5 Million reasons to go the way they did - and for my money only a stupid person would ignore that many reasons to do something.
Sure, when a team doesn't succeed and that gets a coach fired every player, particularly the leading players in the lineup bear some of the blame. But when you read the SI article how can you ever wonder why Ovechkin, or any similar athlete say, when they are being honest, they really don't care and CANNOT care what media, has beens, used to bes or never could bes, say? Also and this is me talking, how can you conclude anything other than these guys I) have some kind of ax to grind, ii) write/say things that are intentionally sensationalistic to garner attention, and iii) SI is the worst place to read anything about Hockey.
Next up for Trotz and his un-coachable Captain - the Flames tomorrow evening in Calgary. I can't wait to hear the commentary from guys like Healy and Krypos after that game, regardless of the results or facts. Sorry for the rant I hope you at least found it entertaining, this fanboy, just had to get it off his chest.