What is the difference between Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Artyukhin you ask? I guess that depends on who you ask. If you are Colin Campbell the difference is about three games.
While one Russian player was given three games for slew-footing an opponent, the other Russian was given a slap on the wrist with a mere fine that wouldn't even cover the cost of the room service food that Ovechkin ordered under the name Sidney Crosby in those ever-so-clever NHL ads to market the rivalry between their two budding superstars.
While this isn't the first time that Colin Campbell's decison making has left people scratching their heads, this one sure seems to defy explaination. A day after one player is suspended for three games for slew-footing, we get a completely different ruling for another player. This certainly begs the question, did Alexander Ovechkin get yet another free pass from the NHL for his reckless on-ice behaviour?
Give Colie Campbell credit. He tried his absolute best to sell this one, but unfortunately his rationale just doesn't stand up to scrutiny.
They claim he is a first time offender, I guess I just missed those other slew-foot calls that have gone against Artyukhin during his NHL career. I also believe that Sergei Gonchar would have a thing or two to say regarding a certain knee-on-knee hit that Ovechkin miraculously escaped punishment on.
They claim he didn't mean it, that it was a hockey play. Sorry ,Colin but whether he meant to do it or not, it's a dangerous play that could really hurt another player. Not to mention, why just fine him? Either it's wrong and the penalty is a three game suspension or it's not wrong.
I get that Ovechkin brings a youthful exhuberance to the game when he plays. I get that he has an edge to him when he plays. However, that doesn't mean he should get a free pass just because he makes for good TV. vechkin is either going to hurt himself, or someone else.
I haven't seen another player take runs a vulnerable players the way Ovechkin does since Colby Armstrong used to play for the Pens. I have never seen another player leave his feet to finish a check with the regularity that Ovechkin does, and I have never seen another player get away it like Ovechkin does.
I suspect that if the NHL doesn't man up discipline Ovie for his reckless play, the players will take matters into their own hands pretty soon. Everyone can turn their nose up at Todd Bertuzzi all they want, but there isn't a real fan out there that doesn't understand that the menatility of "you hurt our guy, we are coming after yours" is very much alive and well in the NHL.
Don Cherry has already called out Alexander Ovechkin once already and if you dont think a good old Canadian boy on defense is itching at the chance to take Ovechkin's head off and look like a star on Coach's Corner, then well, you probably really dont understand what it means to grow up in Canada watching Hockey Night in Canada as a boy.
Ovechkin is a reckless player on the ice and the NHL does itself a great diservice when it chooses to blindly ignore his behavoir while simultaniously punishing others. I just hope they understand that it would be better to lose Ovie for three games in October than for 50 later in the year while his is recovering from post concussion syndrome.