Re-hashing who is at fault for the current NHL lockout is well worn territory, especially from people who are far more connected to the people and issues related to the lockout. I think both sides share in the blame and an extended lockout was inevitable with Gary Bettman sitting across from Donald Fehr.
What has been a bit of a revelation to me is that the outspokenness of Alex Ovechkin and his actions during this lockout, which make it clear he still doesn’t understand what it means to be a leader of men and it might be time for the Capitals to part ways with him. There was a segment of the Capitals fan base that has argued that Alex Ovechkin was the wrong choice for the teams captaincy from the day he received it and thought that Brooks Laich was the better choice. I wasn’t part of that group of fans, but in the last month or two it has been clear to me that Alex Ovechkin just doesn’t get it.
Alex Ovechkin has been one of the more vocal players in support of the NHLPA’s position against the league in the current negotiations, going as far as threatening to stay in Russia if there is any rollback in players salaries. Perhaps it is better said is he is threatening to stay in Russia if there is any rollback in HIS salary. Because his actions have shown the only person Alex Ovechkin cares about is Alex Ovechkin.
Here is a player who has earned $9 million dollars a year from playing hockey for the past 4 years and was on his entry level contract before that for 3 years earning millions a year. That doesn’t even account for any off ice money he earns from advertisers and other promotional events. I’ve written before that I didn’t like the fact that the NHLers were jumping to Europe so I won’t belabor that point. But what he has done is left the likes of the Jay Beagles and Matt Hendricks of the league and also the likes of Thomas Kundratek to stand up and fight for the league while earning nothing. Guys like Beagle and Hendricks are making really nice money for the average person, but it isn’t money you can retire on for life. Then there are guys like Kundratek who may see spot duty in the NHL over a season or two and they are losing opportunities to even appear in the NHL. And here is Alex Ovechkin running off to the KHL to earn $6 million and fighting the battle from his cushy castle in Russia.
I know if I were one of the guys holding the fort I’d be highly resentful of Alex Ovechkin speaking such a big game while he was pocketing a large percentage of his salary (probably tax free as is often the case in the KHL). Conversely, there are other superstars…dare I say it…like Sidney Crosby that have stayed here in North America and have been present at the NHLPA meetings and the negotiating sessions.
This is your leader of your Washington Capitals leaving the rank and file to fight for his salary. And look who has joined Alex in Europe, Brooks Laich and Nicklas Backstrom. Wow, a trifecta of supposed leadership on this organization who is absent from the fight as they line their own pockets. We’ve gone years with great regular season team to flame out dramatically in the playoffs supposedly on the shoulders of players like Alex Ovechkin and Brooks Laich (and also Alex Semin who is on something like his second or third European team already).
If what we are seeing very publicly about Alex Ovechkin’s leadership qualities in these negotiations is who Alex Ovechkin truly is, then I don’ have any faith he can actually be the leader to lead this organization to a Stanley Cup.
Then again this could just be the rantings of a fan upset that the NHL is locked out and that first spectacular goal by Ovechkin everything can changed. Only time will tell.