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Gleason: "Nothing wrong" with Ovechkin's style

(By Gerry Broome - AP)

The first suspension of Alex Ovechkin's career came earlier this season after a knee-on-knee collision with Carolina defenseman Tim Gleason. That was the hit that launched the days of "reckless" talk, and that certainly contributed to Ovechkin's reputation as a suspendable player. And that's no small thing, because even if you defend Ovechkin's latest blow, it's obvious that "reputations" are built as much by headlines and national chatter and suspensions as by actual behavior.

Anyhow, there will be dozens of players asked about Ovechkin's style this week, and many -- including at least one in the Capitals dressing room -- think he should occasionally tone it down a bit, for his own health if nothing else. But when I caught up with Gleason before last week's meeting with Carolina and asked him about Ovechkin's style, he suggested the opposite.

"I think it's one of those things where he's just gonna play the way he plays," Gleason said. "That's what's put him here, that's the way he wants to play. I don't think there's anything wrong with it. He's an aggressive player, so I've got no problem with it. I'm aggressive, so I understand it's how he plays and how he thinks."

Now, would Gleason say the same thing privately? I have no idea. Would Sunday's hit on Brian Campbell change his mind? Not sure. But I asked Gleason if any bad feelings linger from his own incident with Ovechkin, and he quickly said no.

"I don't have any [bad] feelings, no," he said. "You know, I was in his cross hairs, so he's gonna try to finish me. If he was in my cross hairs, I would try to finish him. That's the aggressive style that he's probably played with his whole life, and I play the same way. It's just one of those things where you want to play physical and play your game, and that's what he did, he was playing his game."

Which doesn't necessarily mean that Gleason thought the hit was clean. But I guess you could have a hit that goes badly without having bad intentions, which is something that happens in just about every contact sport.

"You know, there are some points in everybody's career where they might have a hit that's questionable, because there's hitting in every game," Gleason said. "When that was going on, I was realistic about just saying what's the big deal, he's just trying to finish his hits and play aggressive. He's an all-around player. He does everything but fight, and he doesn't need to fight. He's a great player."

So when I asked Gleason what he thought about Ovechkin's style of play, this is what he said:

"I've got nothing wrong with the way he plays. Actually, he's the number one player for a reason, and that's why the fans come to watch him: he puts the puck in the net and he's gonna hit you when he can. You know, he's one of those players that you just have to have your head up, but I'm sure everybody in this dressing room or any other dressing room would like him on their team. So I think it's just an aggressive style, and more power to him."

By Dan Steinberg  |  March 15, 2010; 2:11 PM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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Next: A reasonable take on Ovechkin's hit


In theory, I don't have a huge problem with a short Ovechkin suspension--the hit did appear kind of dangerous, even if it did not seem to be with intent to injure. But when you look at the stuff that doesn't get any supplemental discipline at all--forget about the Cooke hit, the Downie hit on Crosby was a deliberate intent to injure, well after the puck was gone, and apparently he will receive no suspension at all--I don't see how you can justify a suspension in this case.

Posted by: TheFingerman | March 15, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Two time league MVP, and leading scorer on the hottest team that was the first to clinch a post-season berth. Plays with unfailing grit and determination each night and every night. If that's playing dirty, gimme some more dirt.

Posted by: Vic1 | March 15, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Amen Vic1!
The Sunday hit was borderline because of the speed & intentions of the Hawk's player.

In those milliseconds, no human - including Ovie - could have pulled up after taking the action to the play.
add to that his strength & the Hawk's player falling awkwardly, there was injury.

But dirty? We can show a million plays that are dirtier than anything Ovie ever did.

Posted by: Rocc00 | March 15, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Much ado about nothing since the two game rest before the playoffs will do Ovie a world of good. But the juxtaposition of Ovie's suspension, compared to Cooke's getting nothing for a much more egregious act, lays bare the NHL's pro-Pittsburgh bias for all to see.

Posted by: dcsportsdude | March 15, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Note: Gleason is American, not Canadian.

Posted by: butcherbaker | March 15, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Wow, suck it, Colin Campbell.

Posted by: fbutler1 | March 16, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

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