The National Hockey League has suspended Washington Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin for two games for his hit on Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Brian Campbell on Sunday afternoon.
While the Capitals were not happy with the suspension, vice president and general manager George McPhee chose not to expand on his feelings.
"We have no problem with the way Alex tried to finish his check. Unfortunately, an injury resulted. We are disappointed with the suspension but do not want to comment further," McPhee said in a statement Monday.
While McPhee would not comment, Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau was furious with the decision.
"If this was Sidney Crosby doing this, everybody outside of Pittsburgh would have cried foul: 'Suspend him for the year,"' Boudreau told the Capitals team website, Caps365 on Monday. "I don't think it does the game any good to have Alex suspended."
The two-time MVP and the league's leading scorer was given a five-minute major boarding penalty and a game misconduct in the first period for knocking Campbell into the boards. Campbell remained on the ice for several minutes before being helped to the dressing room by trainers.
ESPN.com is reporting that Campbell may miss the remainder of the season due to a broken clavicle and ribs suffered from the hit. The Blackhawks have recalled Nick Boynton of the AHL's Rockford IceHogs to replace Campbell on the blueline.
"I respect everybody," Ovechkin said after Sunday's game. "We respect everybody here in the locker room and outside, but over there [on the ice], we play for our team, and we make some hard hits, and sometimes, you get hurt. That's a hockey game."
Players from across the league weighed in on the hit and discussed the Russian star's style of play.
"I think everyone's known since the first time he came into this league that he plays a reckless style game," said Montreal Canadiens defenceman Josh Gorges. "He's going a hundred miles an hour, he's hitting everything that moves, he's going to the net, he's burying guys. Obviously when you have the stardom he does, anytime anything happens with Ovechkin's name beside it, it's going to get talked about even more. He plays that way, he plays with that reckless abandonment, and sometimes it's right on the line. You look at the hit last night - did it cross that line? I think maybe it did."
Habs defenceman Ryan O'Byrne said he was just happy it's not his job to decide if it's a suspension or not.
"Sometimes in the heat of the moment, those things happen," O'Byrne said. "From my standpoint, it looked like a little bit from behind, but he was kind of skating that way also."
Ottawa Senators forward Nick Foligno added ''He works hard, hits hard and plays the game on the edge. And sometimes when you do that, you cross [the line]. We've seen that a few times.''
Ovechkin's teammate Mike Knuble did not want to comment specifically on the hit, but said he would like to see his hard-hitting teammate tone down some of his aggressiveness.
''He has the reputation that he plays hard, but things seem to be happening around him,'' Knuble told The Washington Post. ''You would like to see him being more careful.''
Sunday's major penalty was Ovechkin's third game misconduct of the season. He was handed a game misconduct on Nov. 26 for a hit against Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta, and three days later received another for hitting Carolina's Tim Gleason below the knees. The 24-year-old was suspended for two games for the Kaleta hit and is now considered a repeat offender under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. He'll forfeit more than US$232,000 in salary for the supsension.
Ovechkin is eligible to return Saturday, when the Capitals visit the Tampa Bay Lightning.