I'm sick of all this "Alex Ovechkin is dirty" talk that has been running rampant lately. The guy plays every shift at 120 percent, and plays like the one against Brian Campbell on Sunday are bound to happen.
If you want to see what dirty is, go watch videos of Claude Lemieux.
If you want to see knee-on-knee hits, go watch Bryan Marchment or Darius Kasparaitis.
Horrible boarding penalties? Go look up Ryan Hollweg.
Jarko Ruuto is a dirty player. Jordan Tootoo is a dirty player. Matt Cooke and Steve Downie are dirty players. Alex Ovechkin is not.
Just like Sean Avery's name gets thrown into everyone's discussion of how he is such a dirty player, when, in reality, he's far from it.
People need to stop listening to everything they hear on commentary and making assumptions from the 30 seconds of video they see on highlights.
Much like the decision on the headshot that most likely ended Marc Savard's season not too long ago, there's no doubt in my mind that Colin Campbell is going to screw up this decision on Ovechkin.
I know people are going to be raving how the league protects its stars and doesn't punish them like the normal folk, but in this scenario he doesn't need any protection; it doesn't warrant anything.
Ovechkin's hit on Campbell didn't warrant a game misconduct, nor, in my opinion, did it warrant a five-minute major. A double-minor at most would have been fine.
Before I get barraged by "he's just a blind Ovechkin supporter" venom spewed in my direction, let me say this: Even if this were Sidney Crosby instead of Ovechkin, I would still have the same opinion. For those of you who don't know, I hate Crosby.
All I have heard was outrage by Blackhawks' fans over the past 24 hours about how dirty this play was. Rightfully so, a player of large magnitude from their roster is going to be gone for a significant amount of time at one of the most crucial periods of the season.
How come those same fans aren't screaming for Andrew Ladd's head? Just minutes prior to the Ovechkin hit, Ladd drilled Alexander Semin in a very similar fashion. The only difference was Semin got up and wasn't injured on the play. If you don't believe me or don't remember the hit, go watch some footage from the game.
The argument will of course be: Look at Max Lapierre's hit on Scott Nichol; he got a suspension, so Ovechkin should too.
Anyone who is comparing the two hits is suffering from serious delusion.
Lapierre clearly is trying to injure Nichol on the play and is not even paying attention to the surrounding play while he's cross-checking Nichol into the boards. From the looks of the play it even seems like Lapierre thinks the play is dead as Nichol raised his hands thinking he scored, when Lapierre checks the unsuspecting Nichol into the boards.
The Ovechkin play, on the other hand, is a bang-bang hockey play. It's a shame Campbell got injured, but it's partly due to the fact that he's turning around the net as Ovechkin hits him. If you watch the play, not only is the hit instantly delivered after the puck is released, but Ovechkin begins his hit as Campbell's shoulder begins to turn.
It's hockey. Maybe the outrage over this hit is because everyone is so use to this watered down version of hockey that Gary Bettman has instilled in everyone's brain.
However, it wouldn't surprise me if Campbell did suspend Ovechkin just so he doesn't get heat over protecting the league's stars.
The NHL is the true culprit in these scenarios, though.
If they would just simply make a clear-cut rule on these type of hits, with no grey area, we wouldn't have these discussions. Any hit to the numbers of a player, regardless of how soft, or hard, or the circumstances of the hit equals whatever punishment deemed appropriate. Then a ladder system of repeat offenders' punishment.
Same thing with headshots. Why not incorporate what the IIHF uses? Any shot to the head, and bye-bye. You're done.
No, let's just say we have a problem and take forever to fix it.
Avery waves his stick around Marty Brodeur in annoying fashion, and the NHL instantly makes a rule change. Yet players are getting carted off the ice left and right after blatant shots to the head and the league drags its feet. Makes sense, right?
I know that everyone isn't going to see eye-to-eye on Ovechkin and his style of play, but to call this play dirty is a slap in the face to guys like Claude Lemieux and Bobby Clarke.