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Blackhawks owner: Ovechkin had "an angry outburst"

Alex Ovechkin's hit on Brian Campbell remains polarizing more than a week later, and the reactions to the hit from hockey bigwigs continue to surprise. Don Cherry, for example, had only mildly harsh words for the Caps star.

"Listen kids, never when a guy's kind of stumbling into the boards push him, but I really don't believe he meant to break his [collarbone]," Cherry said. "It's stupid what he did, he should never have done this, it's almost like icing, but I don't think he meant to break his shoulder and all that and I love what Brodeur [sic] said: it wasn't Ovechkin, it was the boards. Well, that's like pushing a guy off the building and saying it wasn't the push, it was the ground that did it. He should never have done that, never ever ever, but I don't think he meant to hurt him that bad, so here I am sticking up for Ovechkin."

Well, sort of sticking up for him. While confusing his coach for New Jersey's goalie. Here's who's not sticking up for Ovechkin: Chicago owner Rocky Wirtz.

"He doesn't need to do that," Wirtz told Crain's during a Business of Sports taping. "It's an angry outburst, for whatever reason, that he has to deal with. I just think he's too great a player, and he doesn't need to do that. The puck wasn't even near him, and he shoved [Campbell]. He could have skated the other way. It wasn't by accident. He knew exactly what he was doing."

Wirtz's solution to the spate of serious hits in recent months, or at least the perception of a spate, is to enact eye-for-an-eye punishment, which will obviously never happen in this or any other sports league. But it does make for a great soundbite.

"If any one of our great players put Ovechkin out for the season, he should be out for the season, too," Wirtz told Crain's. "Make it commensurate. If you're really going to hurt a player, knee to knee, make a head hit, and you're out for the season, then let them suspend that player for the rest of the season. I'll tell you, you wouldn't see those knee-to-knee and head hits anymore."

(Via Pro Hockey Talk)

By Dan Steinberg  |  March 23, 2010; 1:18 PM ET
Categories:  Media  
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You wouldn't see hitting anymore, either. Sometimes hits and shoves happen awkwardly, and they result in massive injuries. That doesn't mean there was an intent to injure, so meting out this kind of eye-for-an-eye justice is plain ludicrous. Obviously, Wirtz's emotions are still raw from losing Campbell, a key part of the Blackhawks team.

Posted by: CDon | March 23, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Will the crying ever stop?

Posted by: Mike4169 | March 23, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Completely agree with CDon. It's funny - Crosby goes ballistic whacking and crosschecking Zetterberg relentlesslyafter the final horn last night...nobody says boo about it. Ovechkin on the other hand is labled "dirty" for what amounts to missing hits. Everyone needs to realize that the vast majority of the time when a player catches another guy with his knee, or gets him from behind it's just bad timing. Call it reckless if you want, but it's not malicious or dirty. Whaling away at someone with your stick, jumping guys off of face offs, or whaling away at their crotch from behind while they're engaged with another player, however, is the definition of intent. Injuries happen. This really wasn't that bad, other than the result. Wirtz needs to take a zanax and realize that if the league suspended an Ovechkin or a Crosby for any lenght of time - say more than 10 games - the league itself would suffer. So save the ridiculous suspension talk for when it's merited - like if Ovechkin pulled a Dino Ciccarelli and started flailing his stick at an opponent's head; or a Marty McSorely slash that knocks Brashear cold, or a Todd Bertuzzi mugging that nearly kills someone, or even a Dale Hunter after the whistle boarding. Suspending any player for a month because of a mis-timed check is just lunacy.

Posted by: DisgustedinArlington | March 23, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

So would Wirtz say that a blatantly illegal hit that doesn't cause an actual injury is okay? Like literally "no harm no foul"?

Posted by: ChampKind | March 23, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

"If any one of our great players put Ovechkin out for the season, he should be out for the season, too," Wirtz told Crain's.


So this is what it would be like if Jay Mariotti owned an NHL team.

Posted by: StuScott_Booyahs | March 23, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

still don't think the hit was illegal. That kind of hit has always been allowed. How is it suddenly illegal? Del Zotto (Rangers) caught an unsuspecting Carcillo a few games ago with a hit where he pushed him into the boards and Carcillo's head hit the part where the boards meet the ice. He wasn't hurt, BUT HE COULDA BEEN!!! That was a legal hit and it looked a lot worse than what Ovechkin did. Lets face it, a big part of this is the fact the player he hit is an expensive and big part of one of this league's better teams. Had Ovechkin injured someone like a Jordan Hendry, there wouldn't be this kind of outcry.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 23, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

the bigger part of the Cherry comments were about how he said Ovechkin was not a coward the way Cooke is because Cooke refused to take off his visor when challenged by the Bruins. Ovechkin took his helmet/visor off to fight Downie even though Bradley did rush in. So Cherry was very impressed with that.

and 9 out of 10 times that push by Ovy does not end up in a serious injury. Come on, if McPhee did his homework he coulda come up with 20 or more video clips of similar hits over the past few yrs which didn't result in penalties nor injuries.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 23, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

I guess this means Mr. Wirtz has begun the psychological war in preparation for a Caps-Hawks final. It's never too early to plant a seed like this in the minds of the officials who will call the game.

Posted by: LionelMandrake | March 23, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Wirtz.

Posted by: hessone | March 23, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

If someone utters crap, does the rest of the population have to know?

Apparently, yes, but why? There are so much more informative events waiting to be reported.

Posted by: hock1 | March 23, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

""Listen kids, never when a guy's kind of stumbling into the boards push him,"

I agree with Cherry here. If Campbell was stumbling into the boards before the push, he would have a point. The problem is that he doesn't stumble into the boards until after the push.


"The puck wasn't even near him,"

He had literally gotten rid of the puck less than a half a second before he was hit. This is a stretch.


"Make it commensurate. If you're really going to hurt a player, knee to knee, make a head hit, and you're out for the season, then let them suspend that player for the rest of the season. I'll tell you, you wouldn't see those knee-to-knee and head hits anymore."

I don't really see how this applies considering that the OV hit on Campbell was neither knee-to-knee nor a head hit.

Posted by: VTDuffman | March 23, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Of course it was a dirty, cheap, illegal hit. Players know how defenseless you are in that danger zone 3-6 feet or so from the boards (Travis Roy, anybody?).

Fans who have never played are often impressed by a board-shaker, but you can rattle a lot of glass and be at no serious risk of anything worth than getting the wind knocked out of you, if the contact carries two players upright into the boards.

Campbell fell awkwardly, but that's the problem with hits there ... you often have your back to the play and are off-balance as you brake/maneuver around the boards. That's why it's dangerous (remember Claude Lemieux)? And note that Grapes never said OV wasn't trying to hurt Campbell, just not trying to hurt him that badly.

The only thing saving OV's season is the fact that he's a big star who plays dirty (see the laughable disciplinary file on Messier, Mark). Otherwise, with his already-significant history of deliberate-attempt-to-injures, Ovechkin is looking at eight-10 games, not three.

And if Generic Goon does that to OV, he's looking at 20-30 game, Dale Hunter territory. The NHL's first rule of suspensions, after all, it that you can't hurt the talent.

For those of you who haven't seen it, check out downgoesbrown's suspension flow chart:

Posted by: Reditor | March 23, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

"And if Generic Goon does that to OV,"

When Craig Adams boarded OV in January, he didn't even get a penalty, let alone a misconduct/ejection, or a suspension.

What was your point again?

Posted by: VTDuffman | March 23, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

He didn't break his collarbone and two ribs, either.

Posted by: Reditor | March 23, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

"And if Generic Goon does that to OV, he's looking at 20-30 game"


I must've missed the news report announcing Steve Downie's suspension for the rest of the season after his hit on Crosby.

Maybe hockey just isn't the sport for you, Reditor.

Posted by: StuScott_Booyahs | March 23, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Cherry. I stopped agreeing with Wirtz after the first setence.

Posted by: JohninMpls | March 23, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Brian Campbell has some questionable hits in his past too. All his whining, and all the whining of the Black Hawks in general, doesn't do them any favors. They are really coming across like cry babies.

Posted by: dcsportsdude | March 23, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

I don't think campbell's really whining. a reporter asks him what he's thinking, he says he's pissed because he can't play hockey. what guy wouldn't be?

campbell isn't being a chad ochocinco and broadcasting a b1tch fit across the hockey world. someone asks a question, he answers it. yes, there are people who are more measured in their responses, but it's not as if campbell crafted a statement here. he said what he had on his mind, which is understandably that he's pissed.

Posted by: j762 | March 23, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Mrs. Reditor, I feel a tremendous amount of pity for you. You will have to watch OV win cup after cup because of his talent and you will have to witness it year after year. If you knew anything about the game you would respect OV's superior talent. Unfortunately for you, the only "goon" in this room is your reflection in the mirror. Good luck with that.

Posted by: dcfan1 | March 24, 2010 12:02 AM | Report abuse

Actually, in a tight division race or in a tight conference matchup, what coach wouldn't be willing to lose a 4th line scrub or AHL-level goon for the rest of their career if it could take a game-changing player out of the equation for a key playoff series?

Posted by: MikeF703 | March 26, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

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