Alexander Ovechkin already plays with a ton of spark, and his smile is one of the most contagious in hockey. So fans can only imagine what he would be like if there were anger instead of adventure fuelling his game.
Fans might soon find out.
Ovechkin spoke to reporters in Washington on Wednesday and discussed the two-game suspension that he was given by the league for his knee-to-knee hit on Carolina's Tim Gleason.
"It is what is again, so they suspend me and there is nothing I can say about it. I am disappointed," said Ovechkin. The Russian star was asked if the ban would change his playing style, to which he responded, "No, maybe it just get me more angry," and he later added, "I'm not going to change."
Head coach Bruce Boudreau also weighed in, following up on comments that he made on Tuesday in which he called Ovechkin's playing style, in part, "pretty reckless".
"I don't want him to change the way he plays at all, either. When I said reckless, I was using the term in fear of him getting hurt, not him hurting anyone else," Boudreau said.
"He's got to be him. I don't want him to change. That's what makes him one of the three things – one of the best players in the world, one of the best personalities in sports and the reason you pay to watch for guys like Alex," added Boudreau.
Ovechkin's aggressive game and scoring touch have made him one of hockey's biggest attractions, but at the same time, the risk of him getting hurt frequently puts his teammates on edge. Ovechkin has already missed six games this season with a shoulder injury.
"When you play close to the edge things kind of just happen," forward Mike Knuble told reporters. "A lot of times things happen quickly, and I guess as a teammate your concern is with him that he's putting himself in compromising positions. You don't want him to get hurt and don't want him to get suspended, but at the same time what makes him such a great player is he plays at such an intense level."
As for predicting a date for Ovechkin's return, Boudreau suggested that his star doesn't want to miss any more time than he has to, which means that he might return after his two-game ban on Monday in Tampa Bay.
Ovechkin has 18 goals and 30 points in 21 games this season. He has scored at least 50 goals in three of his four NHL campaigns to date.
- with files from the Washington Post