But Brooks Laich had the strongest words for Ward - and any players/fans/media around the league who want to call Ovechkin a dirty player. I'll have another post listing his major transgressions - many within the last 11 months. But Laich stood up for his teammate - and mentioned a questionable hit by Hurricanes F Erik Cole that went uncalled late in Monday's game.
“What about Cole's hit on me [from behind]?... [Cole is] a guy that's broken a neck. So if they want to make comments about our players we'll make comments about [them]. Ovie comes in, leans in with a shoulder, tries to hit him and they’re guy [Gleason] tries to avoid him and it’s a collision that can’t be avoided."
On Ovechkin returning to the ice today...It doesn’t surprise me. Nothing that kid does surprises me. He’s a tough kid. He’s a tough kid and he wants to play every single game. And we’re hopeful that he’s going to be okay...Yeah, I talked to him last night so I knew that it wasn’t anything real serious. So we went to bed with a clear mind last night knowing he wasn’t going to be gone for six months or something. And then this morning he says he wants to play. So we’ll see when he gets back.
On Ovechkin changing his style of play...No. No. I don’t think he can. I think it’s the competitive spirit in him that makes him go so hard and that’s why he’s so respected and so hard to play against. Every single shift that kid plays hard. He doesn’t take any nights off. He lays on the gas pedal and that’s why he’s the best in the world. Injuries are going to happen regardless but I think you’re more bound to get injured if you try and sit back and play safe. Because that’s when mistakes happen. Ovi’s a tough kid, he’s in good shape and I hope he’ll be back in right away.
On Ovechkin and a burgeoning image as a reckless player among opposing fans, coaches and players...He doesn’t care. He cares about winning hockey games. He doesn’t care what some fan says or what some media say. If he did – I don’t even know if he reads English. He speaks it okay, but I don’t know if he reads it. But he doesn’t care about public opinion. He just wants to win hockey games.
H/t to Japer's Rink