I have never seen a grown man cry, and definitely not one who plays hockey, one of the most brutal sports in America. This suddenly changed when I was watching Game Four of the Pittsburgh-Washington series.
The play in question involves the NHL's new Golden Boy, Alexander Ovechkin, and defenseman Sergei Gonchar.
It all started with a Washington power play and about 5:30 left in the first period.
Gonchar was out on the penalty kill and was in the bottom left corner of the standard penalty kill box. The puck was shot at Marc-Andre Fleury, and then deflected around to the back of the net.
The puck came back towards Gonchar who was trailing behind the net. Gonchar played the puck up the ice and was then laid out by Alex Ovechkin.
The problem with this play isn't the fact that Gonchar was hit, it was how he was hit.
After the puck was played, Ovechkin went out of his way to hit Gonchar. Ovechkin moved to his right, stuck out his knee, and jumped into Gonchar.
There was no need for Ovechkin to hit Gonchar. The play was over and the puck was gone. Yes, you need to finish checks, but you don't need to finish dirty checks.
Ovechkin had numerous options opposed to the one he chose. he could have skated past Gonchar. He could have stopped and turned back up ice. If he started tap dancing, it would have been better than hurting Gonchar.
Ovechkin is still young and could do to model his play after another top forward, Pavel Datsyuk. Datsyuk continues to produce at a high level while being voted the winner of the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy three years in a row.
It makes me sad to see one of the top players in the league sink to the level of one of the dirtiest players in the league.
This play reminds me of the Chris Pronger elbow to the head of Dean McAmmond in the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals. Both plays were unnecessary, and both plays were completely dirty.
Don't get me wrong, I love the passion Ovechkin has for the game, his over-the-top antics when he scores, and his great personality at the All Star Games. I lost respect for him today.
He will forever be synonymous with this dirty hit in my mind and it's a shame.