NHL

Ovechkin apologizes; players react to hit, suspension

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TSN.ca Staff
3/16/2010 4:14:48 PM
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The Washington Capitals released a statement from Alex Ovechkin on Tuesday in which he apologized for Sunday's hit on the Blackhawks' Brian Campbell that earned him a two-game suspension. Other NHL players also weighed in with their reactions to the hit and the subsequent suspension.

Here is the full text of the apology:

"I am very sorry that Brian was injured and I hope he is able to return to his team soon. NHL hockey is a physical game. We all play hard every time we are on the ice and have battles each shift in every game we play so we can do our jobs and win. As players we must accept responsibility for our actions and I am no different but I did not intend to injure Brian and that is why I was disappointed with the NHL's decision yesterday. Every time I have the honor to play for my team, I will continue to do what I have done since I was taught to play. I will play hard, play with passion and play with respect for my teammates, opponents and fans. I look forward to returning to my team and doing everything I can to be the best player I can be."

Caps head coach Bruce Boudreau said he wasn't particularly shocked by the announcement, nor was he particularly happy about it.

"You knew the possibility was there, obviously," Boudreau said. "I think sometimes it's the problem of having the most popular player in the world on your team. It gets also the most publicity.

"I'm really disappointed for Alex. You try to look at this from an objective view and I can see where, if you're not a Washington fan or a part of Washington, you're sitting there, 'Yeah suspend him, suspend him'," said Boudreau. "If you're looking at it from our point of view, people keep calling it a reckless hit and to me it was a push from behind that, if he had have gone straight, he would have gone on the ice.

"I didn't think it was the right call but I've been wrong almost every time on these and I know how tough a job it is for (Colin Campbell)," Boudreau added. "Holy smokes, I wouldn't want to have his job when he wakes up and sees that hit."

Boudreau added he didn't think it was necessarily a great move for the game of hockey.

"If this was Sidney Crosby doing it, everybody outside of Pittsburgh would have cried foul. 'Suspned him for the year!'," said Boudreau. "I don't think it does the game any good to have Alex suspended, but that's just me, that's just my opinion. He's so much fun to watch that I think the game is hurting when he's not playing."

Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault said he didn't think Ovechkin should have been suspended.
 
"It's just one player being stronger than the other," Vigneault said. "If there's no injury there's probably no suspension."

On Tuesday, the Blackhawks released a statement regarding Campbell's condition.

"Brian Campbell suffered a clavicle fracture and a rib fracture on Sunday. He will likely avoid surgery and we anticipate a full recovery. He should be ready to play in approximately seven to eight weeks," said Blackhawks team physician Dr. Michael Terry in a media release.

Jeremy Roenick appeared 'Up Front' on Off the Record Tuesday to address the situation.

"(Alex) Ovechkin plays the game hard, he will continue to play the game hard, and he will pay the consequences for playing the game hard at times and he'll tell you the same thing," Roenick told OTR.

The former NHler said he felt the suspension was fitting but that the responsibility was also on Campbell to be aware of his surroundings.

Roenick said he thought there were players in the NHL with more questionable tactics than Ovechkin who weren't discussed by media and fans nearly as much because they weren't as famous.

"Dirty players are all over the league. Jordin Tootoo is 10 times as dirty a player, nobody is sitting here and talking about him and how he goes out head hunting," said Roenick. "Everybody wants to talk about the big guys and obviously the more important superstars. Let's talk about Ruutu and all the stupid things that he's done.

"There are a lot of head hunters and guys who go out just to try and hurt people in the National Hockey League and we got to take those guys out, and talk about those guys just as much," Roenick added. "(Ovechkin) plays the game extremely hard, and some times he plays it dirty, but that's the way he plays and I don't think you're going to change him."

Players around the league weighed in on the hit, which occurred in the Caps' 4-3 overtime win over the 'Hawks on Sunday, but didn't offer up anything too inflammatory.

"You know Alex is playing hard," said Senators forward Shea Donovan. "I don't think he's trying to hurt anybody out there."

"I wouldn't say (he's) dirty, he just plays the game hard," said Maple Leafs defenceman Francois Beauchemin. "It's too bad that it happened but what's bothering me is there's nothing Campbell could have done to protect himself at all."

"It's one of those plays, obviously it's a dangerous hit," said Flames forward Nigel Dawes. "You never want to see people go into the boards like that...When you play the game like that, you're going to have those incidents where you're walking a line that sometimes you may be crossing."

"No matter who it is, it's still pretty dangerous," said Leafs forward Wayne Primeau. "Maybe they're talking more about it because it's Ovechkin. No matter what, you don't like to see it."

"It's a real fine line. It's a tough play," said Sens blue liner Chris Campoli. "As a defenceman, when you go back, you get your back to the play, usually you take a look and see where guys are coming from. I think he did know Ovechkin was there, I think Ovechkin caught him off guard."

"I think he just plays the game on the edge, and plays a pretty physical style of game for the type of player he is," added Sens forward Nick Foligno. "And I think he sometimes maybe gets caught up in the moment and does things that maybe he shouldn't do, but you know what? It's not surprising anyone. He works hard, he hits hard, he plays the game on the edge and sometimes when you do that you cross it and we've seen that a few times."

The Caps, who are an impressive 46-14-9 on the season, will be without No. 8 for tonight's game against the Panthers and Thursday's game against the Hurricanes.

In 61 games with the team this year, Ovechkin - who is the team's captain - has 44 goals and 52 assists for 96 points. He also has 81 penalty minutes.

He is tops in the NHL in points and plus-minus, and trails only Sidney Crosby (45) in goals.

Debate has been stirred recently about whether Ovechkin is a reckless player or whether he simply "plays on the edge". It's one of a few flare-ups the NHL has seen recently involving physical play resulting in injury to players; headshots and blindside hits are currently hot topics of discussion for the league and its fans.

Alex Ovechkin (Photo: Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images)
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