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Posted at 8:50 AM ET, 01/19/2011

Should Ovechkin clean up his act?

By Nicole Weissman

Last week I may have lost the faith of readers with my controversial post. This week I'm blatantly pandering with the only thing I know every Caps fan loves: some old-fashioned Crosby-bashing. Nothing too harsh, but at least now I've got your attention.

The recent HBO series 24/7 pitted Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin against each other in more ways than just the rivalry between their respective teams. The show painted a picture of Crosby as clean-cut and personable. By contrast, Ovechkin was portrayed as a bad boy.

While this characterization may or may not be accurate, a lot of people buy into it. My question is whether it behooves Ovechkin to allow this image to persist, or whether he should try to reform his "bad boy" image in the hopes of winning the hearts of NHL fans and, of course, officials.

Ovechkin's behavior reinforces his rebellious image. Last year's winning goal in the skills competition was, without a doubt, hilarious. Ovechkin distinguished himself, in his usual effortless way, by not taking the competition too seriously. The fact that Ovechkin has fun playing hockey breathed joy back into this team from the day he arrived, but his allegedly overenthusiastic celebrations are an example of how that excitement has earned him criticism around the league. You might even be able to argue that the decline in Ovechkin's play since last year is related to how much trouble he got in last year for his aggressive and physical style.

By contrast, Crosby plays by the rules. He won't lay a hit on you, and he won't end up in the penalty box. He'll kill you with kindness (and a little whining), and all the while he'll combine impeccable skills with a newfound willingness to get down and dirty in the crease to score gritty goals.

Meanwhile, Crosby appears to possess the same potential for leadership as Ovechkin. I would have thought that having personality would allow Ovechkin to be a better team captain, but after watching 24/7, it would be hard to argue against the strength of Crosby's leadership, which seems to be rooted in a deep respect from his teammates.

So should Alex Ovechkin continue the trend started with his new deal with Gillette, and opt for a more clean-cut look, both on and off the ice? He seems to be going in that direction, because his aggression is down. Ovechkin had 185 hits last season, and so far this season he already has 145. I think that's misleading, because to me the hits feel weaker, so though they may be numerous, they're seldom highlight reel material.

I don't think Ovechkin should change his style. I don't think Crosby is a player worth rallying around to the degree Ovechkin is. The Caps organization has made an investment in Ovechkin, and Caps fans have gone all in, too. We like his personality, and we like the style of play that evolved so organically from that personality. Ovechkin needs to make some adjustments to improve his performance, but I hope they're just that, adjustments, and not major stylistic shifts, because seeing Ovechkin dramatically change his style would be a disappointment to many of us.

By Nicole Weissman  | January 19, 2011; 8:50 AM ET
Categories:  Capitals, Nicole Weissman  | Tags:  Capitals, Nicole Weissman  
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Next: Maryland-Virginia Tech - renewing an unheralded rivalry


"By contrast, Crosby plays by the rules"

What? Not sure we're watching the same player....

Posted by: Steve_R | January 19, 2011 9:03 AM | Report abuse

I think he Changed to much and it not the predator type player when he burst on too the league. He needs to get back to that type of player and if it means a bad boy image then so be it

Posted by: mreric03 | January 19, 2011 9:27 AM | Report abuse

If you listen to Brandon Dubinsky, the players know Crosby as a slew-footer; perhaps your judgment on Crosby as "clean" is premature.

As soon as Alex stops breaking his sticks on his shots, he'll start scoring again.

But I do want the caveman back.

Posted by: afreeman3 | January 19, 2011 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Dubinsky also has had high praise for Ovechkin over the past few years, culminating in the his post fight comments with the Great 8 back in December. Can GMGM please put together a package and get Dubinsky in a Caps uni?
I would love that.

Posted by: jmurray019 | January 19, 2011 9:46 AM | Report abuse

What Crosby are you watching? Ask Boris Vlabik about Crosby's sucker punching. Or Dubinsky about his slew footing. Crosby is one of the dirtier players in the game. If the Washington Post is going to allow people to write things like this, they really should ask them to watch a hockey game before they publish it, this is embarrassing.

Posted by: FlyersSuck | January 19, 2011 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Who is Nicole Weissman?? Man, you are mediocre!!!

Posted by: riceldi | January 19, 2011 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I think until our other Caps faves start making other teams pay for putting 2-3 players on Ovy (i.e., pay=scoring because somebody's GOT to be open when they have 3 people on Ovy's back), he's not going to get a break from this suffocating coverage.

It's a little like Santana Moss getting double-triple teamed sometimes, and no other WRs taking advantage of the imbalanced coverage.

And it would be nice if Ovy and Semin learned moves other than the "curl'n'drag" because it seems like that works maybe once a game now.

Posted by: blackjack65 | January 19, 2011 10:08 AM | Report abuse

I've read it twice now, and I'm not really sure what the point of this article was. Unless it was meant to run last season.

IMO, Ovechkin has over-corrected and Crosby isn't any "cleaner" than the next guy. Assuming the next guy is willing to use your balls for a speed bag...

Posted by: tha_prophet | January 19, 2011 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Please never work in this medium for a living.

Posted by: GFisher1 | January 19, 2011 10:26 AM | Report abuse

This article reads like it was written by somebody who has only read what other people have said about these players.

Nicole's credibility went subterranean in paragraph five. Maybe Crosby's image as a golden child who never does anything wrong exists because halfwit media personalities use other halfwit media personalities as their only fact source.

Ovi entered the league in the 2004 draft and has a total of 336 PIMs. Crosby entered in the 2005 draft, and has 387; 51 more minutes than Ovi in one entire season less.

I just did 100% more research on this topic than the author in the span of three minutes; can I have a job here?

Posted by: CheckingLine | January 19, 2011 11:28 AM | Report abuse

can the post PLEASE hire someone who knows the slightest bit about hockey? this article is freakin' EMBARASSING. nicole, you know nothing about the nhl or its players.

Posted by: asdffdsa1 | January 19, 2011 11:28 AM | Report abuse

how can i get a job with WAPO posting my thoughts???

Posted by: nb888 | January 19, 2011 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Crosby plays by the rules? -What exactly are you smoking... because clearly you are not watching hockey. Cindy is as dirty as they come, the refs just ingore 90% of it. Punches to the nuts, slashing Ovi in the nuts -with a ref right there... no call, 2 and 3 cross-checks in a row to the back (again, no call). In what world is that not dirty?

So what exactly was the point of this article again: Ovi should "Clean up his act" but not "Change his style"? What does that even mean?

Please don't ever write another hockey article. Seriously.

Posted by: ed209 | January 19, 2011 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Wiskey Tango Foxtrot are you talking about???

Cindy got run over by Thug Steckel, and not a single Penguin Scum team mate did anything about it.

Cindy then gets run into the boards by Hedman. The Penguin Scum take a pass on him too.

And these are only the recent incidents when Cindy has taken a little extra as they say and the Penguin Scum had no response to it.

Yet, when Captain A.O. laid a huge hit on Malkin, the Penguin Scum didn't waste anytime going after him.

It's pretty clear who makes the Scum go and unlike what many want you to believe, it isn't Cindy. That's why you see them stand up for Malkin way more often than they do for Cindy.

Posted by: CapsNut | January 19, 2011 12:05 PM | Report abuse

My Dear lady,
Clearly you have not seen all of Crosby's games. Do you know what slew footing an opponent is? now, Crosby is a very polite, humble person off the ice like most Canadians, but on the ice he is as capable of a cheap shot as is OV. He just doesn't bring as much force.Actually slew footing is the most dangerous thing you can do to an opponent. it often tears up knees, legs or ankles.

Posted by: chopin224 | January 19, 2011 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Why does the Post let idiots write about sports and subjects they clearly know nothing about? Are we that desperate for news that this diarrhea of the mouth passes for journalism? I cant find one worthwhile, let alone accurate, statement in the entire blog. Please stop reporting on the Caps and see if you can get a column in the style section reporting on the fashion tastes of senate aides or some other trivial subject.

Posted by: opticlguy | January 19, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

@CheckingLine... I agree with your assessments, but your "research" is only half right. They 'entered the draft' in different seasons, but due to the NHL lockout in what would have been Ovi's rookie year, they both have played the same number of seasons. -Maybe do 4 minutes of research next time.

Posted by: ed209 | January 19, 2011 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Again another case of "Penguins Envy." Why does everything the Caps do have to relate to the three time cup champs? This is why this team always chokes in big games...they don't have their own identity because they are too wrapped up in their neighbors in the Commonwealth of PA.

Posted by: corpkid | January 19, 2011 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Nicole - Please stop drinking the Kool Aid. You just bought in, lock stock and barrel to what every Pens media guy wants the world to believe. As the previous posts correctly noted, Cindy Crysby is a winer who has perfected the ugly dirty plays that the refs won't call. The only good part about it is that the players around the league know the truth about him.

Posted by: rock-o | January 19, 2011 1:06 PM | Report abuse

"By contrast, Crosby plays by the rules. He won't lay a hit on you, and he won't end up in the penalty box. He'll kill you with kindness (and a little whining), and all the while he'll combine impeccable skills with a newfound willingness to get down and dirty in the crease to score gritty goals."


What? Somebody has been buying what the Canadian media is selling. Crosby has more career PIMs than Ovechkin and he's played fewer games. Crosby is well known around the league for his slashes and slewfooting. And last time I looked hitting wasn't outside the rules. In fact it's a very important part of the game.

Can't wait for your next article about how Crosby was great in the Olympics.

Posted by: ouvan59 | January 19, 2011 1:30 PM | Report abuse

cannot believe this got posted in the wapo, is this the pittsburgh post gazette? two words, fact check.

Posted by: blur991 | January 19, 2011 2:33 PM | Report abuse

And when he is not playing by the rules, he's just socially awkward :)

Sid, The Socially Awkward Penguin... refuses to shake hands...

He didn't shake hands with Nicklas Lidstrom as well.

Posted by: CodePoetry | January 19, 2011 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Thanks so much, Nicole, for parroting what the Canadian media has to say about Snidely Whiplash and Dudley Do-Right.

If you don't know who's who, re-read your article.

Posted by: irockthered | January 20, 2011 9:31 AM | Report abuse

"You might even be able to argue that the decline in Ovechkin's play since last year is related to how much trouble he got in last year for his aggressive and physical style."

Ok, then do so. It is, after all, the entire premise of your article. It's not enough to sling a few "well known facts" together and thereby present a cogent argument.

Crosby has nothing to do with Ovechkin's style of play or his penalty numbers or his scoring. While you promise, in your first paragraph to deliver some "Crosby bashing" (and seriously, why play to the lowest common denominator?) you go on to compare the two greatest players in the game, one an apple and one an orange (see what I did there?).

Honestly I think your heart is in the right place but your execution is sorely misguided. I mean you say Crosby has the "potential" to have the leadership Ovechkin has, then you go on to imply that the "24/7" series showed Crosby as a more credible leader. Which is it?

You seem to start a lot of your columns by referencing the "controversy" from the previous week. There's nothing wrong with controversy, but there is something wrong with false equivalents, faulty logic and just plain missing the facts. I'd like to see you garner a faithful readership, but you have to do better than this.

And to some of my fellow commentators, I may be whistling in the graveyard here, but do you suppose you could be a bit more civil in your criticisms? Constructive criticism isn't that hard.

Posted by: b80vin | January 20, 2011 9:43 AM | Report abuse

"how can i get a job with WAPO posting my thoughts???" exxxxactly!

I'm less offended at the uninformed regurgitation of a bunch of blog articles she read and acting like she understands something about the Capitals and NHL than I am of the WaPo sponsoring it.

Posted by: TCJR2000 | January 20, 2011 11:50 AM | Report abuse

And this is exactly why the newspaper industry is dieing. Back in the day you might get away with printing this and having casual fans nod their heads while hockey fans silently stewed but to post this on a forum that allows people who know better to publicly respond is suicide.

Posted by: psujohn | January 20, 2011 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Could you please go to your boss and request him/her to replace you with someone who actually know something about hockey? The past articles you have wrote are filled with nonsense and unproven facts.

Posted by: trailblaza05 | January 20, 2011 1:25 PM | Report abuse

While I'm not a fan of this post for several reasons previously stated, I thought I might comment that everyone did have a chance to become a fan blogger for the Post. They had a contest. You had your chance. Nicole had the guts to try, and I'm happy for her.

I think several of the comments here are downright cruel. Imagine if this girl was your daughter... would you want someone saying those comments to her? I don't doubt the intelligence of the commenters (save the one who doesn't know the difference between "to" and "too," but I do doubt the civility. It verges on bullying, which saddens me.

Nicole--don't give up. Learn from your mistakes and keep going.

Posted by: Violetta55 | January 20, 2011 7:19 PM | Report abuse

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