WASHINGTON, February 8 (RIA Novosti) Eleven games into their lockout shortened season, the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Washington Capitals are the worst team in the league, having lost five of their last six games.
Team captain, Moscow born Alex Ovechkin, who scored big while playing for Dynamo Moscow in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) during the recent NHL lockout, has had a dismal performance this season for the Capitals, leading both fans and commentators wondering if the time has come for the Caps and “Ovi” to go their separate ways.
“The once-stellar combination of Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals may be reaching a point of no return,” wrote sports commentator Steve Silverman in an article on Bleacher Report.
When asked last week about his performance on the ice, scoring only three points in the Capitals’ first eight games of the season, Ovechkin said he was “embarrassed,” The Washington Post reported.
“Maybe it’s just different hockey. Maybe it’s just different size of ice,” Ovechkin said.
Whatever the reason for his failure to score, Capitals fans and followers are fed up, as indicated by posts on the newspaper’s sports forum discussing Ovechkin’s future.
“His 13-year, $124 million contract is through 2021, and the simple fact is that he's not worth it at his current production level,” wrote Lindsay Applebaum, sports assignment editor for the Post.
“I watched Ovi play several games while he was in the KHL during the lockout. He looked great,” said Dave Ungar in his column on Bleacher Report.
In Russia before returning to the NHL, Ovechkin played in 31 games and scored 19 goals, the fourth best in the KHL. And while the majority of NHL players were in limbo during the lockout, Ovechkin had extensive playing time in Russia.
Many, including Ungar who is an admitted Ovechkin fan, believed he would return to American ice with a vengeance.
But that just was not the case. In the first 11 games of the NHL’s abbreviated season Ovechkin has scored just three goals.
“Something is very wrong with Alexander Ovechkin, and as crazy as the idea would have sounded a couple of years ago, it is time for the Caps to really think about cutting ties with the face of the franchise and moving in a different direction,” Ungar said in his column.
Ungar said the Capitals would be better off trading Ovi now while there is still a market for him, but not everyone shares the same sentiment.
“Ovechkin, for better or worse, is the captain of this team,” said Neil Greenberg in a post on the Capitals Insider blog. “He is struggling. The team is struggling. But that doesn’t mean it is time to ship him out.”