Alex Ovechkin is the face of the Washington Capitals franchise. It's inexcusable for one of the most prolific scorers in the league to put up 65 points in a season, right?
Well, that's what happened last year when Ovechkin played under coach Dale Hunter's defensive system of hockey.
In an interview with CSN Washington's Chuck Gormley, Ovechkin was asked if he was happy with what he has done so far in his career. He stated:
"I’m happy what I did last year because it was a pretty hard year for me, starting with Bruce [Boudreau] and ending with Dale [Hunter]....
It was [Hunter’s] decision and he had his own mind and his own kind of personality and his own systems. Of course sometimes I felt trapped."
Ovechkin is an offensive player. It's that simple. As a coach, you can't breed him to be defensive minded. He received a $100 million contract to score goals, not to drop back on defense and sacrifice his body.
Sure, if you need him to deliver a bone-crushing hit or dive to poke-check the puck away, he can do that for you. But you can't expect him to change his game for you.
Ovechkin's production has consistently declined over the past three seasons. He hasn't been able to put up 40 goals in a season since 2009-10, and there's a good chance he won't do it this year either with the abbreviated season.
It is simply inexcusable for a guy that once scored 65 goals alone in one season to tally up a total of just 65 points. If the Capitals want to be successful behind Ovechkin, they need an offensive-minded coach.
Enter Adam Oates.
Oates is a former center in the NHL and was an assistant last year for the New Jersey Devils when they went to the Stanley Cup Finals. He knows what it takes to get there. My guess is he will let Ovechkin be Ovechkin.
When Ovechkin was asked by Gormley what his first impression of the new bench boss was, he answered:
"I just feel trust. It’s the most important thing for any player. When you feel trust from your coach you feel unbelievable and you want to go play for him. Right away when I met him I just feel it."
How about that for a vote of confidence Capitals fans? Let alone hockey fans in general?
Ovechkin is a face of the NHL. When you ask a casual hockey fan or someone who doesn't really watch the sport who they know in the league, I think there is a pretty good chance they'll answer with "Alexander Ovechkin."
Oates is the guy to help Ovechkin get back to taking over the Sportscenter Top 10 on ESPN.
Trust is huge. The fact that Ovechkin trusts Oates means a lot for the Capitals and the game of hockey.
I am as excited as anyone to watch Ovechkin square off in Tampa against reigning goal-scoring leader Steven Stamkos on opening night, and even more excited to see what Ovechkin does this season.
Hockey is back ladies and gentlemen! Hopefully Ovechkin is too.
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