From The New York Sun, Jan. 16
Today, many Ovechkin supporters correctly point out that he is the centerpiece of the Caps' organization and a critical part of the team's future if they're to develop into Stanley Cup champions. But the same was also said of Jagr. And while there is plenty to like about Ovechkin's game — from his ability to skate either through or around defenders to his blistering slap shot to his dazzling stick-handling skills — the things that make him special are also the things that make this contract such a painfully bad idea.
Ovechkin is an enviable combination of Mike Bossy, Cam Neely, and Pavel Bure, three of the most dynamic wingers ever to skate in the NHL. Not coincidentally, all of them saw their careers shortened by injuries. Ovechkin's willingness to engage opponents physically — and to battle his way to the most treacherous real estate on the ice at breakneck speed — means that he is consistently putting himself in physical danger.
Ovechkin's contract will undoubtedly also make him a target for disgruntled union members at the low end of the totem pole, whose escrow payments are necessary in no small part because of the exorbitant contracts lavished upon the likes of Ovechkin. If Flyers antagonist Steve Downie thought it wise to headhunt Dean McAmmond in a preseason game (for which he got suspended 20 games), how much fun will he have going after Ovechkin? The lack of respect shown by NHL players toward their peers in recent months has been nothing short of appalling, and Ovechkin's contract effectively makes him a target for the league's most unsavory characters.
From Courier-Post Online, Jan. 15
Downie's reputation as a loose cannon certainly played a role in the 20-game suspension he received for a preseason hit on Ottawa's Dean McAmmond, one which undoubtedly will be revisited Sunday when the Senators face Downie for the first time since the incident.
And his sucker punch to the face of Maple Leafs forward Jason Blake on Jan. 5 drew him plenty of unwanted attention, especially in and around Toronto.
But when Stevens sent Downie on the ice to protect a one-goal lead late in the Flyers' 6-4 win over the Washington Capitals Sunday, a very clear message was sent.
"It was definitely surprising to me," Downie said of being asked to stop Alexander Ovechkin. "I'm honored by it. I'd be lying if I said it didn't give me confidence. Every piece of confidence helps my game right now. In this league, if you don't have confidence you're not going to get very far."