Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hook the Captain

Last night, the Washington Capitals lost to the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1, turning in a listless effort.  Again.  Thank goodness there was some excitement during the national broadcast however.

If you didn’t see it, here’s NBC NHL analyst Mark Milbury providing the evening’s fireworks:

Alex Ovechkin is the captain of the Washington Capitals.  I never really questioned that designation, until now.  I do not question his captaincy based on one game and frankly I don’t question it based on his play the past year or so, although maybe I should.  It was something off the ice that turned my attitude.

Tuesday night, former Capital and legendary underachiever Alexander Semin returned to Washington after signing a one year deal with the Carolina Hurricane during the off season.  To celebrate his return, forward Troy Brouwer let the press know the Caps’ locker room consensus on the former teammate. 

“It’s tough to lose his scoring ability, when he wanted to play.”  Ouch…”when he wanted to play.”  That will leave a mark.  

Brouwer amplified his remarks, questioning his work ethic and commitment. 

“Some nights you didn’t even know if he was going to come to the rink.”  Double ouch.  Into the boards.

Matt Hendricks had similar comments about the talented but lazy star.  Former teammate Matt Bradley said as much 2 years ago in an interview.  Caps fans saw it during the playoffs.  Semin tried to survive on skill alone and for a while, that was enough.  Desire beats skill in hockey on most nights and definitely does in the playoffs.  Semin has none.

Ovechkin’s teammates sound off against Semin.  How does the captain of the team respond?  Ovechkin defends his friend and shares a dinner with him the night before the game.  During Semin’s 7 year tenure with the club, captain Ovechkin never called out his teammate and friend for uninspired effort.  Brouwer does.  Hendricks does. OV was captain.  That was his job.  He failed and Semin is someone else's headache. 

Milbury said what we’ve all been seeing with our own eyes for too long.  OV doesn’t back check with urgency.  He doesn’t move around on the power play.  He makes blind passes.  In short, there are at least 20 other players in the league that I would pick to anchor my franchise ahead of Ovechkin.  I am not ready to trade him but I don’t see any benefit in asking him to lead in the locker room when he can’t lead on the ice. 

The Semin example was the last straw for me.  OV is not cut out to be the captain of an NHL team. 

Brouwer and Hendricks have heart.  Maybe one of those guys should be captain.  Time to put the hook on OV.

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