Despite a slight gap in high-end talent and differing national ties, Alex Ovechkin strikes me as the next Jeremy Roenick in many ways.* Both forwards have been outspoken, entertaining, hard-hitting and offensively gifted in their primes, though many harshly judge them because of their lack of championship success.
Considering their kindred spirits, it’s a little stunning whenever J.R. utters some unflattering words about Ovi. Wednesday provided one of those examples, as Roenick shared some pointed criticisms in his NHL.com blog. Here are some of the highlights:
He says since he’s suspended he shouldn’t go to the All-Star Game, but to me that is a cop-out.
… Listen, I am a big Ovechkin fan. I have been since Day 1. But it doesn’t matter that I’m a fan of his because I am disappointed with the way he has treated this situation. There has to be a little more loyalty to a League that has enabled you to make over $100 million.
Roenick makes some great points, but let’s face it. Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis is the one who’s signing his checks, so he’s probably showing loyalty to the most important group of all – his team.
The three-game suspension could hurt Washington (though they won the first game he sat out), but a potentially well-rested Ovechkin might just be worth the wait. It’s understandable that Roenick is disappointed – in many ways, Ovechkin qualifies as the one truly irreplaceable entertainer in the NHL – but the league’s loss could be the Capitals’ gain.
* In fact, if EA Sports ever made a “new” version of the Sega Genesis/SNES-era NHL games, I’d bet that a 16-bit Ovechkin would end up remarkably similar to the version of J.R. who gained Vince Vaughn’s adulation.