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SI writer targets Ovechkin

Images via Japers.

As you might have heard,'s Jim Kelley absolutely ran over Alex Ovechkin and Ted Leonsis in his column yesterday, a reckless shoulder-first charge that left nothing but carnage in its wake. I think it's pretty well-established that I'm not exactly an expert in the intricacies of hockey penalties, but I thought I might point out a few things.

Both Ovechkin and Leonsis seem to see nothing wrong with the reckless way in which the superstar plays the game or what appears to be an utter distain (sic) for critics who argue that he needs to develop a more wholesome approach.

I guess I'd ask for a single example of Leonsis and Ovechkin showing utter disdain, or distain for critics. You can disagree with a critic without showing utter disdain, or distain.

In his first comments after getting the two-game sit down for his hit on Carolina forward Tim Gleason (one that came about, in part, because he missed what appeared to be an attempt to elbow Gleason in the head), Ovechkin said that, if anything, the suspension might cause him to lift his intensity a bit. "Maybe it just gets me more angry," he threatened.

Threatened? Did he watch the video? First off of all, Ovechkin smiled after the quote; it wasn't a very scary threat. Secondly, he was in his short, clipped, unquotable mode, and the question was about how he's previously said he'll not change his style. But more importantly, in his first comments after the hit (instead of after the suspension), Ovechkin was not in any way "threatening."

"I don't mean to go knee-to-knee to him," he said. "It's just a moment in the game. He turned, and I just don't have time to realize and stop."

Ooooooh! That's a threat! (Now, maybe you want to say you don't believe Ovechkin here, but then you're not allowed to say you believe his "threat" to "get more angry" means via physical play instead of goal-scoring fury.)

That approach has led to the current dilemma, the argument that somehow Ovechkin is above the rules.

No one, to my knowledge, has argued that somehow Ovechkin is above the rules. No one. Some people have argued that Ovechkin isn't completely out of control, and some have argued that he is. Many have accused the NHL of taking it easy on its superstars; no one has said "the rules should not apply to its superstars."

Leonsis, normally one of the NHL's clearest thinkers in the ownership ranks, seems to be abetting it. In a response to the suspension and his conversation with Ovechkin, Leonsis wrote on his website: "Alex isn't trying to hurt anyone. He has an honest respect for the game and for all players in the league. Alex is trying to 'get the puck.'...I believe if he changes and becomes a player that is managed by the media or fans or anyone else, he will put himself at risk."...

Is that what Marty McSorley heard when he whipped his stick upside the head of Donald Brashear or is it what Chris Simon was told to do when he ran some of his favorite antagonists head-first into the boards or applied a stick to the face?


Now, admittedly Leonsis doesn't have a truly long history in the game....

Objection, your honor. Irrelevant.

[Leonsis] undercut coach Bruce Boudreau in the process. Boudreau, who after the hit on Gleason said Ovechkin was "pretty reckless" and suggested "maybe he has to pick his spots a little better" and that he was going to "have to have a little talk" with him, immediately was forced to reverse his position. "I don't want him to change the way he plays at all, either," Boudreau said, using words that truly had to be difficult.

Other things Boudreau said on "pretty reckless" day, before he was "undercut" by his owner:

"It's hard telling a guy that scores 60 goals a year to change the way he plays. At the same time, I don't want to see him getting hurt, you know?...The open ice hits, you just look around the league, it's not only the hitting. The guy that's getting hit is so fast, they're moving out of the way. You're lining guys up a lot of times and going to hit 'em, and once they move, everything gets exposed. And human nature, if you've got your bead on em, if you're a hockey player, is to continue to try to hit 'em. A guy in Florida got hurt last night doing the same thing....Not only as a coach, but as somebody who admires [Ovechkin], I just don't want him to put himself in harm's way. So we'll see. I mean, I don't think anything being said is going to change the way he plays."

Wow. Really "forced to reverse his position" there by Leonsis, huh?

"He made a play that I thought you could compare it to an awful lot of plays that have happened so far this year," Boudreau said. "Like (GM George McPhee) told me, it was a good hockey play that went wrong."

Funny, but that's what they said in the Ontario Seniors League when Don Sanderson got into a fight, fell, hit his head on the ice and died. "It was just a good hockey play that went wrong."

See, you can disagree with his argument, but what McPhee (and Boudreau) meant was that Ovechkin was lined up for a clean hit, and that Gleason's twisting turned it into a knee-on-knee penalty; a good play that went wrong due to Gleason's movement. You might compare it to a defensive end lining up a quarterback, the quarterback ducking, and the defensive end hitting him in the noggin. Would have been clean, but for the late shift, which made it non-clean, but not an attempted murder.

So I would submit that comparing Ovechkin's hit to a death-by-fighting incident is slightly non-analogous.

(Postscript: Instead of blasting him with distain, or disdain, Leonsis invites Kelley to come to D.C. and discuss.)

By Dan Steinberg  |  December 4, 2009; 12:36 PM ET
Categories:  Caps , Media  
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ovie's hits are so dangerous, kalita got a cut on his nose and gleason barely missed a shift.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | December 4, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

ps. stein, hope you picked upon on nate ewell's tweet that jim kelley was not in the press box on 12/2/06 when ovie hit briere from behind. also, that game was here and not in buffalo as kelley said...

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | December 4, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Bravo, Dan. Awesome deconstruction of Kelley's hack job "journalism."

Posted by: RedBirdie | December 4, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Didn't get to hear the interview, but apparently they had this joker on 106.7 and they gave him the business pretty good. Total hatchet job of an article.

Posted by: LouLewis | December 4, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Distain is maybe my new favorite word. Tide should pick it up as a slogan.

What a tool this Kelley guy must be. God forbid someone should play hockey in an aggressive or somewhat violent way. Is there anyone with any sense that actually believes Ovechkin was out to hurt that guy?

I'm no hockey expert either, but I was always under the impression that in hockey, when someone gets in your way, it's OK to hit them and that occasionally people get hurt in the process. BTW, who got hurt worse in that hit?

Anybody remember the shape of Rod Langway's nose?

I'm sorry, but those who don't like hitting in hockey have distain for the game itself.

Posted by: LarryBud | December 4, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Why are people coming at the only reputable team we have?

Posted by: StetSportsBlog | December 4, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Waahh waahhh, Ovie plays hockey like you're supposed to - with heart and physicality.

SI is a joke (remember, their top NFL man spearheaded the push to keep Art Monk out of the HOF for over a decade, even though he retired as the #1 WR of all time?). They've lost relevancy because of all the other avenues out there for people to get their sports news.

Have you seen any quotes from actual NHL stars about Ovie's "bad" or "dangerous" play? Absolutely not...enough said.

Posted by: Section104 | December 4, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

StetSportsBlog - I think it's because Jim Kelley hates good things and punches babies.

It's true, he did it in that press box in Buffalo he wasn't in for that hit he didn't see (but claims to have). Kelley, if you WERE there to see that hit, an angry mother would like a word with you.

Posted by: KurtNYC | December 4, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Check out Nate Ewell's twitter. It turns out that Kelley was lying about seeing the Briere hit that he claims to have. It wasn't in Buffalo. And Kelley wasn't the Buffalo writer here for that game. What a dishonest, lying piece of trash this clown must be.

Posted by: poguesmahone | December 4, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

THANK YOU. What a terrible article that was. Has this guy even seen the hit??

Posted by: Pbonds | December 4, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for this! Clearly Kelley should take Ted up on his offer to come to DC so he can educate himself!

Posted by: lovnthecaps | December 4, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

kelley's that article was a BS jab from afar. i couldn't even read it all. so thanks dan for doing it for me and offering up your own cynicism. and good for ted saying 'bring it on'

Posted by: hockeypunk | December 4, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Sidney Crosby? Is this you??

Posted by: morrisonhotshot | December 4, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Alex does need to choose his spots better at times. For those who don’t remember, he nearly killed his own teammate last year against Pitt in the playoffs. The hit on Backstrom was clearly him being frustrated and not thinking. I am not suggesting he changes his style, just chooses better

Posted by: cj658 | December 4, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I guess I'd ask for a single example of Leonsis and Ovechkin showing utter disdain, or distain for critics. You can disagree with a critic without showing utter disdain, or distain.
Dan, you have been on both sides of that one over the years, so I will take your word for it.

Posted by: alex35332 | December 4, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

It's amazing just how much the "hockey establishment" disdains Ovechkin's style of hockey. He should really avoid any displays of emotion, passion, or excitement and learn a thing or two from that nice young man Sidney Crosby. Everything Alex does, whether accidental or intentional, is clearly a violation of everything good, wholesome, and pure that hockey stands for! Plus Alex is not even a CANADIAN! GASP! HORROR!

You would never know after reading Jim Kelley's report that the hit could merely have been "an accident".

Posted by: jbanks979 | December 4, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Yeah What a terrible article that was. BTW any chance Dan Snyder ever going to blog and invite the other Dan (Steinberg) for a cuppa coffee?

Posted by: KarK | December 4, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Is sports illustrated still a viable magazine?

Who the F is jim kelley? I mean, criticize OV all you want...that hit could have gone either way, but leave Ted out of it, idiot...

and get your facts straight...Gonchar did not miss the series...instead only like 2-3 games

Posted by: carsonspence | December 4, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Ovie is not malicious, but the reporter certainly is. Doesn't even try to hide his hatred for Ovie. I bet he's a fan of Canada's golden boy, Cindy Crosby.

Posted by: futbolclif | December 4, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

except for the swimsuit issue, who pays attention to SI, anymore?

Posted by: Max231 | December 4, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Good job Dan. I hope Jim Kelley takes a look at your post. He could certainly learn a lot about constructing an informative article. It's clear Kelley wanted to write an article that painted Ovi in a certain light (a light that does not exist) and to achieve his goal, he took quotes completely out of context. Seriously, for guy who made it into the Hockey Hall of Fame for being a writer, he sure does display an incredible lack of integrity with his article about Ovechkin.

Posted by: MillBurray | December 4, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Ovie's hits are so dangerous....Chuck Norris won't even put on skates.

Posted by: fushezzi | December 4, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

He's just jealous of Ovechkin.

Who is this stupid jim kelley guy and has he ever played hockey? he probably didn't even watch the game. what a loserrrrrrrrr

Posted by: rachel216 | December 4, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

ew i saw his pic and he's an old man like don cherry so it doesn't suprise me. NO ONE read his retarded article please...

Posted by: rachel216 | December 4, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

How long until someone creates the "distain bog" blog?

Posted by: smperk | December 4, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Ovie's hits are so dangerous....Chuck Norris won't even put on skates.

Posted by: fushezzi | December 4, 2009 2:44 PM

LMAO! All Chuck Norris quotes can be applied to Ovi.

When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Alex Ovechkin.

Posted by: paperboy76 | December 4, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Jim Kelly is also the hack who thought the OHL player deserved to be suspended for a year for a legal hit that put a kid in the hospital, convientily forgetting to mention that the kid who ended up in the hospital turned his back to the forechecker at the last minute.

I agree with much of his Ovie take, though.

Posted by: MACCHAMPS04 | December 4, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

sadly, jim kelley is in the hockey hall of fame along with dave fay...

he's also based in buffalo, which would explain why he sounds like such a miserable guy...

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | December 4, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

That's a poor headline. Online editor(s) should be on top of that. Kelley's arguments are weak, but he doesn't embody or represent all of SI any more than Dan Steinberg does the Post. Writing an opinionated column doesn't strike me as "targeting"; that choice of words seems a lazy attempt to attract readers by depicting a coordinated attack by the magazine where there isn't one.

Posted by: gmburris | December 4, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

"You can disagree with a critic without showing utter disdain, or distain." Kinda snarky, and infantile. Then the "caster of the first stone" throws one and hits himself between the eyes "First off [sic] all, Ovechkin smiled after the quote..." Sounds like the semis of the "Mighty Midget Writers Competition."

Posted by: TonyX | December 4, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

@gmburris I agree. Good point. I wrote the original headline, and I just changed it. I think "target" is ok, though, since I was kind of trying to jokingly riff off the idea of malicious play.

@TonyX Also well-played. I fixed the mistake, with the little strike-through to show the error of my ways.

Though in my defense, he made other errors I ignored, like "Leonis." But I was quoting the "distain" graf, so it made for fun fun-making.

Posted by: DanSteinberg1 | December 4, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Hey Fushezzi, looks like Ted singled you out!

Posted by: paperboy76 | December 4, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

He also called Ovechkin a repeat offender, which is defined in the NHL's Collective Bargaining Agreement as a player that has been suspended for a similar foul in the previous 18 months. I don't understand how you can complain someone has never been suspended before and argue that they have a history of suspensions at the same time.

Maybe he's arguing that the NHL should be above their own collective bargaining agreement and apply the rules nilly-willy?

Posted by: FlyersSuck | December 5, 2009 12:59 AM | Report abuse

"his hit on Carolina forward Tim Gleason (one that came about, in part, because he missed what appeared to be an attempt to elbow Gleason in the head)"

What the hell is this guy talking about? Dan, thanks for schooling this guy.

Posted by: killercue00 | December 5, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

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