Alexander Ovechkin has been known to punish goalies with his slick hands and quick shot. He’s also been known to thrown his body around on opposing players. Has Ovechkin finally crossed the line from being a good player to a dirty hockey player?
That’s exactly what happened to Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek. Michalek went to play the puck in the corner when Ovechkin “launched” himself at the young defender. No penalty was assessed on the hit but it was obvious that number 8 left his feet with the intention to crush his opponent into the glass.
It came with little surprise that Ovechkin was handed a three game suspension by the NHL for the hit. But was it enough for the three time offender? The Russian tornado has been suspended previously for boarding former Chicago Blackhawk Brian Campbell and a knee-on-knee hit of Carolina Hurricane Tim Gleason. For a player so in control with the puck, how can he be so reckless without it?
The NHL has a repeat offender clause and it is as follows:
From the NHL CBA, Exhibit 8 section 5d)
[S]tatus as a “first” or “repeat” offender shall be re-determined every eighteen (18) months. For example, where a Player is suspended for the first time, he is a repeat offender if he is suspended again within eighteen (18) months of the first incident. If he is not suspended a second time within this eighteen (18) month period, he will no longer be treated as a repeat offender for disciplinary purposes
Ovechkin lucked out because the length of time between this and his last suspension is greater than 18 months. But when you’ve been suspended three times in a couple of years the punishment has to be increased. If the NHL truly wants to cut down on hit to the head and head injuries a players full disciplinary history must be considered.
If there is another incident like this involving the Washington star the NHL has to be prepared to make a statement and throw the book at him.
What do you think? Was the suspension warranted? Does Ovechkin deserve a more severe penalty if this happens again?
Let me know on twitter! @StevePalumboNHL