There is no denying the ability of Alex Ovechkin. Size, speed, power, he has all those things. There is one thing missing from the Great 8's game.
With the struggles of this team over the course of this season, it has become woefully apparent that Ovechkin is not exactly what you would call a team player. He is not doing the things that brings you the accolades of your teammates. He has never been a quality player in the defensive end of the ice. Not because he can't do it......moreso because he refuses to do it.
As long as he was putting pucks in the net, his lack of effort in the defensive zone was somehow acceptable.
The thing you have to understand is the ideals of the GM George McPhee. McPhee was a hard nosed player when he laced up the skates and appreciates the ability of players of the same ilk. He has always valued the ability of Ovechkin's physical prowess but it must drive him nuts to watch Ovechkin's antics this season (and for the most part, his entire career in D.C.).
McPhee has done his best to bring an influx of character players to bring this club to the next level. Players like Knuble, Laich, Brower, Halpern, Wideman have the attributes needed to get through the war that is the Stanley Cup playoffs. I am sure that he has secretly hoped that players like this would show his star player what he has to do to be successful in this league. As of yet though, Ovechkin has yet to change anything.
The worst thing that could have happened to Ovechkin was Bruce Boudreau.
This is not a slight on Boudreau.....don't get me wrong. Boudreau is proving himself to be a winner and nothing less. My point is this.
Boudreau came on board with the Caps while the team was floundering hopelessly and turned his skill players loose. He allowed Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom (the best player on that team), Green, etc. to skate freely and show their offensive talents. They wreeked havock on the league and struck fear into every team they faced.
Then the playoffs came along. Run-and-gun did not work in the tighter checking of the playoffs and it was deemed by management that things needed to change.
Now McPhee has changed the team to one that is strong on character and it still isn't working. The game plan has changed considerably, and is hampering the horses that want so badly to run.
At some point in the not-so-distant future, McPhee will make a decision to deal his star player for a player or players that he believes will prove to his character players that this is a team they will want to play for.
There are many GM's in this league that would trade for Ovechkin just due to the fact that it will put butts in the seats. Teams that are struggling to draw a fanbase would salivate at the idea of getting a high-profile like Ovechkin. He will draw a crowd, of that there is no doubt. This works to McPhee's advantage. Therefore, any return that McPhee would get for Ovechkin would be substantial and more than that, respected.
I have said it my entire life. Talent without character means nothing.