5 Reasons Alex Ovechkin Needs to Be a Little More Like Tim Tebow
At this point in the NFL and NHL's respective seasons, two of the most newsworthy trends have been that Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has overachieved in a big way, and that Capitals star winger Alex Ovechkin is struggling mightily.
Though the two athletes are as different as two superstars can be, it wouldn't hurt Ovechkin to take a moment to look at what has made Tebow successful this season, because it's exactly what he's been missing from his game.
Tebow's faith, work ethic, confidence and ability to get his team to rally around him are his calling cards as a professional athlete, and for a player who has faced as much criticism and pressure like Ovechkin has, those wouldn't be bad character traits to add to his repertoire.
With that in mind, here are five reasons why Alex Ovechkin needs to be a little more like Tim Tebow.
5. Having a Team-First Attitude
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One of the biggest challenges confronting Alex Ovechkin is the ability of opposing teams to adapt to his style of play and forcing him to go outside of his comfort zone to create offensive chances.
No longer does the speedy winger fool defensemen with his trademark cut-to-the-middle move that made its way onto countless highlight reels during the first four seasons of his career. Instead, Ovechkin is often forced wide for low-percentage shots or stripped of the puck completely, creating an odd-man rush for the opposition.
If Ovechkin were to dump the puck into the zone more often and be willing to battle down low to retrieve the it, it'd both reduce his number of turnovers and force defensemen to work harder against him.
Tim Tebow is lauded as a player who cares only about the success of his team, as he supported starting quarterback Kyle Orton before his number was called. Ovechkin would do well to adopt the same outlook, because he often doesn't make decisions with his team's best interests at heart.
4. Confidence, Regardless of Criticism
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In the weeks leading up to Tim Tebow's first start of the 2011 season, he was among the most polarizing players in professional sports, and the question as to whether he should be given the keys to the team's offense was a very hot topic of discussion.
Through it all, Tebow has remained confident in his ability to lead his team to victory on a consistent basis, which is a big reason why he's become a feel-good story for sports fans across the country.
Ovechkin's game appears to have suffered drastically over the course of the last 18 months, and it's not due to a big change in personnel or level of skill. Seeing as there's no tangible explanation for what's happened to Ovechkin since the 2010 Olympics, one has to believe confidence is an issue for the mercurial superstar at times.
3. Rising to the Occasion When Needed
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Too many times this season, the Capitals have found themselves in need of a hero late in a game, down by a goal to an inferior opponent. Too many times that hero has not emerged, which has led to the Caps' free-fall down the Eastern Conference standings.
For what it's worth, Ovechkin is paid to be that hero more often than not. He's demonstrated an ability to score like few others can, especially at key times.
So, when Ovechkin fails to deliver, or even be playing well enough for the coach to put him on the ice, when the chips are down, it obviously costs the team.
That's the difference between Tim Tebow and Ovechkin this season. Tebow has posted a couple of miraculous performances highlighted by Herculean comebacks, while Ovechkin has just one game-winning goal on the year.
If the Caps are going to defiantly emerge from the rut they're in, the team needs Ovechkin to come up big when the clock's winding down.
2. Lead by Example, on and off the Ice
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When now ex-Capitals Head Coach Bruce Boudreau opted to bench Alex Ovechkin late in a game against Anaheim early this season, Alex Ovechkin showed the sporting world what he thought of his affable bench boss' decision.
Television cameras spotted Ovechkin directing some very questionable language toward Boudreau after learning that he wouldn't be on the ice for the final minute of play, specifically taking a jab at Boudreau's weight.
Simply put, an incident of this nature cannot be taking place on Washington's bench during key moments, especially not involving the team's captain.
Ovechkin would do well to look at how Tim Tebow has handled disappointments in terms of playing time, as he kept his mouth shut despite all the drama surrounding Denver's quarterback competition during the Broncos training camp and early parts of the season.
1. Have Faith in the Organization
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For the last 18 months, life has been unusually difficult for Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.
When things aren't going the way a coach and team want them to, a captain is expected to be the voice that guides the organization back to the level of excellence that's expected of them.
One need look no further than Tim Tebow to see an example of this, as Tebow led the Denver Broncos to seven wins in 10 games, despite the fact that coach John Fox hasn't always placed much confidence in Tebow's ability to win games.
Nonetheless, Tebow has had faith in the Broncos organization, and it's paid off thus far for the 24-year-old. Ovechkin should realize that no matter what his offensive numbers are at the end of a season, all that counts is whether his Capitals have achieved 16 wins during the postseason.