Alex Ovechkin has been here before. Sitting in the press box watching his mates get through a game or three,they even manage to win more than their share. This time feels different, however. When he came back from his suspension for his unfortunate hit from behind on Brian Campbell, there was a marked difference in his game. The snarl was gone, he seemed more cautious. Critics were quick to point out that he lost his edge. That will not be the case this time. You see, he's ticked off now. And the rest of the league will soon find out that they ticked off the wrong guy.
There's a saying that applies here. I'll clean it up for the sake of any virgin eyes that are reading. It goes something like this: keep handing me your dung, it's nothing more than fertilizer for what I'll use against you.
That's exactly what's happening here. If you think for one second that he doesn't know what people are saying, think again. Writers from within hockey's inner circles and even those who wouldn't know a hockey puck from a Ring Ding (many of whom write for the Washington Post) are all saying the same thing. They might mince their words, but I won't--they think Ovechkin's a punk.
But the great thing about all this is that out of so much fertilizer, you can grow something beautiful. The thing of beauty in this case is a meaner Ovechkin ready to run over anybody who gets in his way. Because he doesn't care anymore. He obvious doesn't give a crap about representing the league at some glorified pick up game. Why should he care about what a bunch of hack writers who have no idea what it takes to get through a full 82 game NHL season plus playoffs? That's just it, he shouldn't. And that was his mistake before.
I'm not saying one way or the other whether Ovechkin is justified in snubbing the NHL's glad-handing and smile festival. Just that he's focused on more important matters. And that requires both a rested body and a sound mind. A sound mind for him is to approach the game with a mean streak. Kind of hypocritical when we celebrate some of the game's best--Mark Messier, Bobby Clarke, Eric Lindros--as having a mean streak as part of their game. So why then is Ovechkin different? The truth is he's not.
Ovechkin is at his best when he plays his game--hit anything that's in his way and shoot more than all four Terminator films combined. Look for that the moment he comes back from his current suspension. In the meantime, he's exuding the leadership qualities we've all been waiting for. It's already showing in how he celebrated Matthieu Perreault's hat trick. He's having fun again, his way. As well all know, happy workers are much more productive workers--meaning Ovechkin is due to explode.
And his teammates will be right behind him. Best not get in their way.