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Posted at 7:45 AM ET, 11/28/2010

Mike Milbury: Ovechkin is like Ochocinco

By Dan Steinberg

(2007 photo by Winslow Townson - AP)

I had no problem when the brilliantly named Kovalchucklegate became a brief news item last week. Whatever the participants might say now, the Caps had just been blown out for the second time in a week, and Bruce Boudreau seemed at least slightly miffed to see Alex Ovechkin part of a mirthful post-game conversation in a public space.

So, at the time, it seemed appropriate for this to be a one-day story. However, had I thought about it with any perspective, I would have realized that this would not be a one-day story, but would instead cycle through the media and ferment in crazy sauce long enough for one national analyst to compare Alex Ovechkin to Ochocinco. Because the former might have briefly laughed after a game was over.

"He can do whatever he wants," Mike Milbury complained on Hockey Night in Canada's Hotstove panel Saturday night. "They're letting him do whatever he wants on the ice; they're gonna let him do just about whatever he wants to do off the ice. And I'm kind of curious to see how it all plays out. Will they win multiple championships with this incredibly gifted player, surrounded by incredibly gifted talent? Or will it bust at the finish line as many of us think it might, because they don't know how to play defense and they don't have discipline?

"Take Ovechkin versus Crosby, the serious student. He can't take draws very well; he goes home in the offseason, takes draws until he can take them with the best of them. He can't score enough goals; goes home and shoots pucks into the dryer, and now he scores 50 goals with the best of them. Ovechkin? Went home to Moscow, and he did not shoot pucks into the dryer, I guarantee you that.

"There's a lot of other things, if you read the GQ article about him, he was very upfront. He's a rock star and he takes full advantage of it. God bless him. But I'm curious to see how this plays out, because Crosby is the exact opposite. But [the laughing incident] didn't surprise me at all....

"I don't think he's tapping into what he ultimately could be, because if you think of Crosby and you think of the NFL, you think of Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. Who do you think of when you think of Ovechkin? You think of Ochocinco or, you know, somebody like that. It's just, it's a different attitude....Defense wins championships by most accounts, and discipline usually factors in. He has very little of either one."

Well then. Thanks to Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski, this led to a brief NHLasNFL game, and I hate to belabor the obvious, but no, when you think of Ovechkin, you do not think of Ochocinco. Over the past four NFL seasons, three men have won MVP awards -- including both Brady and Manning (twice) -- and 12 men have received votes in the process. Ochocinco has zero MVP awards, and zero votes.

Meanwhile, over the past four seasons in the NHL, three men have won MVP awards -- including both Crosby and Ovechkin (twice).

Over the past decade-plus of NFL MVPs, only one winner never so much as appeared in a Super Bowl. That was LaDainian Tomlinson. Maybe that's the name Milbury was looking for. Or maybe he should compare Ovechkin to Ben Roethlisberger, who seems to be laughing in the above photo, taken after a 21-point blowout loss to the Patriots in 2007. Or maybe he should opine about how John Wall will never win an NBA title because he once did the Dougie. Or maybe this is just a dumb story that deserves to be crushed under a thousand noble and hard-working Canadian dryer machines.

(Video via Capitals Outsider.)

By Dan Steinberg  | November 28, 2010; 7:45 AM ET
Categories:  Caps, Media  
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Milbury's right. Don't get me wrong...Ovie's a lot of fun to watch, and I was one of those guys who used to sneer at Crosby's boring personality and overall "Canadian-ness." No more. Crosby's proven himself to be able to lead teams to championships, and over the long haul, barring injury, he's going to have a more impressive career than Alex.

Alex is a character, and who wouldn't want him on their team? (I do have doubts about his role as Captain of a team.) But until Alex realizes that he's no longer a colorful guy who's just getting into the league and that he's now expected to be a leader, he's only a scoring machine "cog" in a team, and that makes him less valuable than Crosby.

Alex needs to spend less time doing the sorts of things that make him great for GQ stories and more of the sorts of thing that make him great for stories about a player at the top of his game, raising his team with him. He isn't there right now.

Posted by: Bethesda_Jack | November 28, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

@Bethesda_Jack, while I agree that Ovi has a lot to learn as a captain, if you really watched the clip, Milbury is over the top.

Does Ovi have some maturing to do--definitely, but he's not Ochocino, he's not even close. I think the guy deserves the benefit of a doubt--let's see how this season pans out before we try to run him out of town.

Posted by: dfe1 | November 28, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Not exactly news that Milbury is a racist xenophobe. North American star = white QB. Russian star = black guy.

Milbury would make a great guest host on Colin Cowherd's radio show when CC is vacationing in Real America.

Posted by: TheFunBunch | November 28, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Other than the comedic value, why does anyone pay attention to Milbury.

Ovi is Ovi. He is no other person, player, or talent on the planet. A lot goes in to winning a championship. Ovi has performed well in the playoffs; his supporting cast has not. He is a goal scorer. He is not a face-off man. He scores, he does not assist. This Ovi versus Crosby thing is old. Let us review at the end of their careers.

Posted by: Leeguru | November 28, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Other than the comedic value, why does anyone pay attention to Milbury.

Ovi is Ovi. He is no other person, player, or talent on the planet. A lot goes in to winning a championship. Ovi has performed well in the playoffs; his supporting cast has not. He is a goal scorer. He is not a face-off man. He scores, he does not assist. This Ovi versus Crosby thing is old. Let us review at the end of their careers.

Posted by: Leeguru | November 28, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

I watch HNIC regularly through the NHL Centre Ice package, and Milbury's actually a pretty thoughtful member of the Hotstove contingent. If you want comedy, tune in after the 1st Period for "Coaches Corner." Now Grapes is plainly past his prime and only there for comedic value.

Posted by: Bethesda_Jack | November 28, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Player’s personalities have nothing to do with winning or losing a championship. If Ovi wants to spend part of the offseason traveling and partying with his friends, then that’s his business. If Crosby wants to spend part of the offseason shooting pucks into a dryer, that’s fine also. In reality, none of that matters. One player alone can’t be responsible for winning or losing a championship. The Caps have not been able to advance past the second round of the playoffs for the past three years because they simply aren’t good enough as a team. Even if Ovi spends every minute of the offseason training and perfecting his game, it won’t change the fact that the Caps still have some serious flaws on the team such as a lack of a 2C and depth at D. Those are the things that need to be addressed before the playoffs; otherwise nothing Ovi does will matter. Ovi has already won all the individual awards. It looks to me like that’s not what motivates him now. Ovi already leads the NHL in playoffs points and he doesn’t need to score 50 goals in the regular season to prove that he is a good leader. If Crosby and Stamkos want to spend the entire season chasing the Rocket Richard and Art Ross, then let them. It’s a long regular season and I’m glad Ovi is pacing himself accordingly. Trying to keep pace with others in order to win a couple of individual trophies is not in the best interest of the team. The last thing the Caps need is an exhausted Ovi come playoff time.

Also, if Crosby is so good at making players around him better, then why are the Pens always looking for a winger for Sid? How many wingers has he had in the past two years alone? As far as Crosby being better defensibly, this is simply not true either. Even though Crosby is a C, his defensive abilities are pretty average. The guy already leads his team in GA with (23). He also led his team in GA last year with (79) and it’s not like he spends a ton of time killing penalties. He spent an average of 0.53 seconds on the PK last year and 0.32 seconds so far this year. In contract, Backstrom SH TOI/G last year was 1.05 and 1.27 this year.

Posted by: dana2020 | November 28, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

While Milbury may be over the top, he raises some valid questions, in my view. There's no doubty Syd strives to improve his game, I hope OV has the same drive to be better.
And I hope OV is aware of Milbury's concern's.

Posted by: Hattrik | November 28, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

How anybody can take Mike Douchberry seriously is beyond me. This is the same guy who as the GM of the Islanders, drove them SO FAR INTO THE GROUND that 10 years later that team has STILL not recovered. This is the same idiot who traded away the likes of Zdeno Chara and Roberto Longo, yet his word on talent and ability holds any water? Please.

Douchberry's man-crush on Crosby has always been apparent as well as his dislike for Ovi and Russians in general (i.e. remember the "Eurotrash" comment last year?). It's not the first time he dissed Ovi...I'm sure it won't be the last.

Posted by: hawk1009 | November 28, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse


You're obviously not the first person who thinks that the NHL media seem to treat the Russian guys in a similar manner as the sports media treat the black guys.

I hear so many stereotypical comments on Russian guys as in "he takes days or shifts off". It's just say that comment and plug in a different Russian name. Yet, they talk about how Chris Pronger paces himself well so he can play 30 minutes per game. Pronger is a Canadian.

Granted, Ovi probably needs to mature, etc. but he's no Ocho Cinco.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | November 28, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse


On Milbury, here's a song in his "honor":

Here we go 'round the Milbury bush; etc.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | November 28, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Very good comments Dana2020. Everyone that says Millbury is a Canadian homer, you are also correct. I saw the piece, and I laughed because it was so over the top. If you want to make a point you should be able to make it without being so ludicrous that your point fades into it.

Each year for the past few OV has become more disciplined, a better defender and a better leader. His +/- last year shows that his line his pretty stingy and he is part of that unit. Success comes from how the unit plays and each persons roll in it. Once again without standing out or doing anything special he is in the hunt for all the individual awards as well as having his team in the top slot.

Sid is a GREAT player. As soon as the Canadian announcers get through their head that Ovechkin being GREAT as well does not minimize anything Crosby does, they could really make this a fun league. Instead they aer mad they voted for OV for MVP twice and now are trying to play cantch up with their boy.

The Capital seem to have found something on defense, are taking less dumb penalties, are winning close low scoring games in OT, and have a superior penalty kill to go along with an already potent PP.

Pittsburgh is a good team and will be playoff ready. That's what they do. They are a better playoff team than the Caps. But as we saw last year ans the year before, the most important thing when good teams get together in the playoffs is health, discipline and goal tending. HEalth is a crap shoot and anyone that loses a Green and Semin to injury will have trouble. I believe the Caps and OV have adressed the on ice discipline and the young defenders aer vastly superior to what was here before.

Let's see what side of his mouth Millbury talks out of when we beat Pittsburgh and go on to play for a cup against the Wings this year.

Posted by: dbrine1261 | November 28, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

if Crosby "lead" the Pens to a Cup win where is his Conn Smythe Playoff MVP ? on Malkins shelf and not in Crosbys basement .too bad Milbury wouldnt know that because he cant see past Sids balls smackin him in the face.

Posted by: heathdog1119 | November 28, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

So Milbury is basing his assumptions on an ESPN commercial (Crosby) and a GQ article (Ovechkin). umm okay.

Posted by: MNMNT | November 28, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget Milbury is hte same imbecile who referred to the Caps as the"Crapitals" and dismissed the Capitals as "Eurotrash." They keep him around because you never know what idiotic thing will come out of his mouth next. Ignore him. He proved in NY that he knows not what he is talking about.

Posted by: haunches | November 28, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

So Milbury must be like Ovi because he obviously doesn't go home in the off season and practice trying to sound competent.

Posted by: ds_kelly | November 28, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Milbury has decimated the Islanders organization when he was their GM.

Posted by: MNMNT | November 29, 2010 8:06 AM | Report abuse

So out of all the examples there are out there of an NFL QB smiling after getting blown out, Steinberg picks a 3-year-old photo of Roethlisberger where he "seems to be laughing." No way an unprovoked dig at Pittsburgh fans.

Posted by: RoachVA141 | November 29, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Mike Millbury is the bastard son of Matt Millen and Colin Cowherd. He's treated as a play by play expert because he's mastered a very simple TV device - if you say something authoritatively, it appears you are an authority. Yet when it comes to actually running a team, he was the worst hockey GM of all time.

I won't even get into his inflammatory, xenophobic, anti-Russian rhetoric because like Cowhered's statements about John Wall, it's so over the top ridiculous now that it's almost comedic

Posted by: jbanks979 | November 29, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Excuse my ignorance, who the heck is Ochocinco?

Posted by: ATOMIX1 | November 30, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Okay, never mind found it. Milbury is an confirmed idiot. Wasting time on him is not good for anyone's mental health.

Posted by: ATOMIX1 | November 30, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I look at it more like the Early 1/2 of the 2000's. I think Ovi is Payton Manning, Sid is Brady. More MVP's for Ovi, more championships for Sid.

Posted by: alex35332 | December 1, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

@ RoachVA141,

I think you're correct; sly ole Steinberg here is trying to slip in a subtle knock against Pitt all right. Either 1) Dan has never forgotten how close Ben & Brady were to kissing in that 3 year old picture and wanted to share it with us, or 2) Dan didn't see Derek Anderson smiling on MNF, because surely that could have been a more recent picture for comparison (although to be fair, Rapist at least did win a few Super Bowls and Derek Anderson has only won a few games). Or, maybe he could have chosen to show those other QBs he mentions or even a picture of a hockey player on a hockey article.

Regardless, Milbury is an ass - Go Caps!

Posted by: bbird216 | December 1, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

When Ovie wins 2 cups you can compare him to Ben, Dan.
Until then, he's closer to 85.

Posted by: LEM66 | December 4, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

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