4 Changes Alex Ovechkin Needs to Make to Regain Superstar Status
In 2007-08, Ovechkin scored 65 goals, becoming the first 60-goal scorer since 1995-96. His exploits earned him the Hart, Art Ross and Rocket Richard Trophies.
In 2008-09, Ovechkin scored 56 goals and repeated as winner of both the Hart and Rocket Richard Trophies.
And in 2009-10, Ovechkin scored 50 goals, reaching that plateau for the third season in a row and the fourth time in his career.
But since then, Ovechkin's star has scored a total of 70 goals in the last two seasons. As a result, he is no longer the brightest star in the NHL universe.
Here are four things Alex Ovechkin must change to regain his superstar status.
4. Score Goals
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Alex Ovechkin is known as a goal scorer. And that, before anything else, made Ovechkin a superstar.
But he is no longer as prolific of a goal scorer as he once was.
From 2007-08 through 2009-10, Ovechkin led the NHL in goals per game (Hockey Reference). In that time span, Ovechkin's goals per game average never fell below 0.69.
But over the next two seasons, Ovechkin's goals per game average never even reached 0.50. As a result, his star began to fade.
To help restore his superstar status, Ovechkin should raise his goals per game average in the 2013 NHL season to at least 0.60. That would equate to 29 goals in a 48-game season (or 49 goals in a 82-game season). That would be a goal output worthy of a superstar.
3. Stop Diving
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Alex Ovechkin frequently receives a minor penalty for embellishment.
This is not very popular around the league.
In fact, at the NHL Rules Summit in August 2012, some players wanted to post a list of divers and embellishers in every NHL arena.
Ovechkin may have found his name on such a list. During his career, Ovie has earned a reputation as a diver.
If Alex Ovechkin wishes to regain his status as a superstar, he must earn the respect of NHL players and fans alike. To do this, he must stop diving.
2. Regular-Season Success
During the 2009-10 season, the Washington Capitals won the first President's Trophy in franchise history. That Capitals team became the first non-Original Six team in NHL history to finish the regular season with more than 120 points.
Alex Ovechkin was a prominent member of that team even before he was named captain during that season. And so he was constantly in the minds of NHL fans across the league.
But the Washington Capitals have not repeated that success. In fact, they barely made the playoffs during the 2011-12 season, qualifying as the seventh seed. That was Washington's worst playoff seed since 2007-08.
If Alex Ovechkin wants to be considered a superstar again, he must lead the Capitals' return to prominence in the standings.
1. Postseason Success
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The biggest key to Alex Ovechkin regaining his superstar status is winning in the playoffs.
And by winning, I mean winning the Stanley Cup.
This is the main reason that Sidney Crosby has become and remains a bigger superstar than Alex Ovechkin. Crosby has now appeared in two Stanley Cup Finals—winning the Cup once—while Alex Ovechkin has appeared in zero.
And the superstar status follows all Stanley Cup winners, not just Sidney Crosby. In 2010, Duncan Keith was thrust into national prominence with a memorable ad campaign after his Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup. The same happened with Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins in 2011 and the entire Los Angeles Kings team in 2012.
To gain similar superstar status, Alex Ovechkin must win the Stanley Cup.