"Man, I sure am miserable right now."

Last night the Washington Capitals were down a goal late in the game, and head coach Bruce Boudreau chose not to put superstar Alex Ovechkin on the ice.

Ovy was understandably pissed, and muttered something to himself.

Then he celebrated when his team scored, was put on the ice in overtime, assisted on the OT winner, said the right things in interviews after, then called it a day. And, it was a pretty damn good one too – got a point, got a win, got out of Dodge.

“You, Nicky, you go score. Alex, you stay here. Good talk.”

Ovy being pissed at his coach and muttering something - even if that something was what Deadspin and the above video speculated - is a non-story. I can’t tell you the amount of players I’ve heard curse out our coach on the bench during a game. Hell, I’ve done it myself plenty of times. That didn’t mean I played any less hard, or stopped wanting my team and teammates to succeed. No, I was pissed because, in that instant, I thought I was good enough to be out there on the ice when it mattered.

And as a player, you can play the worst game of your life, and in that big moment still expect to go out there. You see a guy - and I’m sure Ovy saw a few - and think “tough night or not, I’m still better than that guy. I should still be out there.”

That doesn’t mean that when you take those thoughts and turn them into “you f’ing piece of ___” under your breath that you want a trade. That you want your coach fired. That something has to change.

The dynamic in a team dressing room is rarely altered by a key player sitting in a big moment, or a role player getting the chance to shine unexpectedly.

If you bowl over Francois Beauchemin on an off-day, you’re a good player.

Why? You play 82 games, and these emotional highs and lows come so frequently that you don’t have time to dwell on one minor personnel disagreement from one game. If you take a few games “off” to dwell and pout, you’ll get swallowed whole by the competitive nature of the sport. Your stats would get hurt, your spot on the depth chart would get hurt, all of that.

What Boudreau did was basically the definition of coaching – making a decision between player A and player B when things matter most. And we can rest assured that he got Ovechkin’s attention – look at how much the move is getting from us in the media. It’s good for Ovy to know he’s not entitled to anything.

So you be a pro, prepare the same way and play better the next day. You earn your ice time.

This likely won’t happen to Ovy again, possibly ever. But it’s fair for the coach to play the guys that are playing best that night in the big moments.

Ovy being pissed he didn’t get the nod to do what he does best? That’s fair too. I don’t care what he called Boudreau.

Comments (9)

  1. To be fair, he had a point.

  2. Players are competitive. That is the bottom line. When the situation is what it was, down by goal with about a minute to play, everyone wants to be the guy on the ice. From Ovechkin all the way down to whoever plays on the fourth line for the Capitals. Every single one of them wants to be, and thinks they deserve to be, on the ice.

    Hell, if every single one of those guys didn’t have that mentality they wouldn’t have the tenacity to make it to the NHL. We’re just making a big deal out of it because it’s Ovechkin.

  3. The funniest part of the video is the first 15 seconds when Boudreau is blocking out Oveckin’s view of the dry erase board. Ovechkin looks like a goalie trying to look through a screen… a very big screen.

  4. Good on the coach. He had to be second guessing himself every second as the clock counted down. He’s a smart man, he knew everyone would second guess him, and he did it anyway. If the Caps hadn’t tied it, there’d be a whole different story today, and some people would be calling for his head (as insane as that sounds).

  5. I like Ovy’s manuerisms. “Hey, coach, so what’s the play? Coach, you’re in the way, I can’t see the diagram, how am I supposed to know what to do? What’s my assignment coach…. Coach? I’m not out there?….. _______ “

  6. Word. As a Caps “fan” (I use that term very loosely) I’ve been wanting Gabby to take a harder line with Ovechkin for a couple season now, and I’m heartened to see who’s doing so–starting in the preseason! Comparing Ovechkin to the great current and former NHL captains who have led their teams to the Cup or at least very close, you start to see that he’s more about his individual game than the bigger-picture team dynamics. Yes, he’s always psyched when the team wins regardless of whether it was due to him, but his way of playing the game–and therefore, his way of leading this team–is based more on his doing things as an individual rather than trying to make the other 4 skaters on the ice with him better. Worse, he takes shifts off–look at Selanne’s PP marker last night. Ovi’s out of position because he’s looking for a breakaway (IMO). That’s not a team leader, that’s an individual. So good on Boudreau for making the call. AND for balancing that by playing him in OT. I’ve been reading lots of ’87 Canada Cup stuff this week–good coaches are often controversial and know how to use that to will the best out of their stars. Keenan confirmed that on Versus last night.

  7. Dirty Dangle, MikeK – what struck me was, if he thought he was going to be out there – and he clearly did – why does he stay blocked out from the board? Why is he just like “ahh, I’m sure they’re just drawing up a play for me to bomb it. I’ll figure it out as I go.”

    Weird that he’s not paying attention there.

  8. Left unsaid in all of this is that the Caps 3rd line of Ward/Laich/Chimera were totally the tits last night. They deserved to be the guys out there in the crunch. Through in the need for an additional center during the 6 on 5, and Ovie’s rough night, and this isn’t a big deal. It very well had nothing to do with Sending A Message or any other such nonsense.

  9. Your article misses the point. Ovi is NOT “a player” he is the CAPTAIN. As Captain, his job is different than “other players.” THAT is what makes his calling his coach FAT ___ or FA_ ___ so unacceptable.

    It’s like a manager cursing out the company President, then turning to the hourly employees and expecting them to “roll up our sleeves, battle and “get er done.”

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