According to ESPN.com, and confirmed by Capitals Insider, Alex Ovechkin has been suspended for two games following his second game misconduct ejection in three games for the kneeing major he was assessed in Monday night's 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.
"I regret that this has happened," Ovechkin said in a statement released by the league. "I'm glad that Tim [Gleason] wasn't injured because I never ever want to see anyone get hurt. I am disappointed to miss these games and I can't wait to get back on the ice next week to help my team."
Ovechkin skated before practice today for a couple of minutes and was listed as "day-to-day" with a sore right knee. The diagnosis is much better than the original fears from watching the 235-pound winger collide with Hurricanes defenseman Gleason and writhe on the ice for several moments before being helped from the ice by Capitals trainer Greg Smith and center Nicklas Backstrom.
Reaction around the league, from players and coaches to Web sites and blogs, is mixed. Is Ovechkin simply an aggressive player, built in the mode of Bobby Clarke and Rocket Richard? Is he, in the words of his own coach today, reckless? Or, as many Penguins fans would tell you, is he one of the dirtiest players in all of hockey?
My personal feeling is along the lines of coach Bruce Boudreau. Ovechkin plays with a reckless abandon that, to this point, has carried him to two Hart Trophies. From The Washington Post's Capitals Insider:
Q: Does he need to change the way he plays?
Boudreau: He's pretty reckless. It's hard telling a guy that scores 60 goals a year to change the way he plays. At the same time, I don't want to see him getting hurt. Maybe he has to pick his spots a little better. ...
You're lining guys up a lot of times and going to hit them, and once they move, everything gets exposed. Human nature is to react; if you've got a bead on them, if you're a hockey player, is to continue to try to hit him. It's something that has to be addressed by us, I guess.
Ovechkin does indeed need to "pick his spots" better, and last night's check was a prime example. He's 175 feet from his own goal, attacking a defenseman that was moving away from him in a response from a big check on his center, Backstrom, moments earlier.
That instance was neither the time, or the place, for payback. The game was very much in doubt, tied at 1, and only bad things could have resulted from the open-ice hit, from a minor roughing or charging penalty to a major injury for one or both of the parties.
What I'm saying is the hit was unnecessary and avoidable.
I am of the opinion that the boarding call he got against Patrick Kaleta of Buffalo last week was a completely different situation, and the game misconduct was not warranted.
In that matter, Ovechkin hit Kaleta shoulder-to-shoulder, and Kaleta saw the hit coming—then put his head down and steered himself toward the boards before Ovechkin hit him—making the situation appear worse than it actually was.
But since Kaleta's visor opened a gash on his face, the referee was left in the unenviable position of justifying the "injury" with the misconduct.
But Ovechkin's history is now littered with questionable hits. From his boarding of Daniel Briere three seasons ago, to the knee-on-knee hit against Sergei Gonchar in last season's playoffs, to the two game misconducts in the past week, and several others not mentioned here, the best goal-scorer in the league now has a rap sheet as long as anyone in the league.
And with it comes a two-game suspension and official placement on the "repeat offender" list.
Bleacher Report denizens, you decide. Take the poll and let everyone know how you feel in the comments.
Is Ovechkin aggressive, reckless, or dirty?