His 15 points in 19 games thus far is not a bad start at all...if your name isn't Alex Ovechkin. The two-time Hart Trophy and Rocket Richard Trophy winner isn't showing that explosive flair, that knack for bulging the twine that he's possessed his entire career.
Last season saw "Ovie" compile his worst statistical season yet, with 32 goals and 85 points in 79 games. Again, good for most, but hardly for Ovechkin.
Part of that blame could go to Bruce Boudreau, who is trying to get Ovechkin to play a more complete, two-way game. However, when you're dealing with someone like Ovechkin, the best answer may be to just let Ovie be Ovie.
He's shown he can be the best player in the game, as he has earlier in his career, but for some reason, it just hasn't been the case since last season. Regardless of who you feel like blaming for that, it's a real problem right now for the Caps.
If there was any one player you thought would never get traded, it was "The Great One" Wayne Gretzky. And he was sent packing twice.
People may argue that it was much easier for Gretzky to be traded in an era without a salary cap, and Ovechkin has a monstrous cap hit of $9.5 million over his contract, which runs through 2021. However, I would bet that more than half of the teams in the NHL would chomp at the bit to get their hands on Ovechkin. It's not like these teams wouldn't be giving up a lot of salary in their own right, too.
Alex Ovechkin could very well be shown the door out of Washington if the feud with Bruce Boudreau shows no signs of ending, and also if Ovie fails to find his A-game. Often, if a team isn't performing well altogether, the coach will take the fall. That's usually the case. However, right now, Alex Semin and Alex Ovechkin are arguably the main two who are really not performing up to standards. Rookies Cody Eakin and Marcus Johansson are stepping up in big ways with their stars slumping.
Sure, the fans and environment in Washington would take a major blow if their superstar winger was traded away, but depending on the return, it could benefit in the long haul. They're sure to get some valuable return, including a first-round pick likely to result in another future star.
Up until this past week, Caps GM George McPhee has repeatedly shown confidence in his bench boss. Boudreau's success in the regular season has earned it, though, no playoff success hurts his case. I'm not comparing Boudreau to legendary coach Scotty Bowman in any way here, but Bowman certainly had a chance to speak out about his own players to management.
In his time with the Detroit Red Wings, Shawn Burr had a long feud with Bowman for several reasons. Amongst all the issues, one anecdote stuck out. In Game 2 of the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals against the New Jersey Devils, Scott Niedermayer dropped his stick behind the net, which Burr went and picked up for him. Niedermayer then beat Burr coming down the ice to score on goaltender Mike Vernon. Bowman was absolutely enraged by that, which would be the last straw for Burr. Bowman had a strong say in who he got to coach, and ultimately, shouldn't that be how it goes?
Now, I'll be the first to admit that although obviously not impossible, it definitely is unlikely that Ovie is moved. However, you can't help but wonder at all the different scenarios running through the head of Capitals GM George McPhee. He ultimately is faced with the task of fixing this team and ensuring they succeed.
Ovechkin has to get his act together in Washington D.C. or else you can bet McPhee will make some changes, no matter what front they come on.