When it comes to Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin, people's opinions are quite divided. His skills, on one hand, are undeniable. He’s a 10-time All Star, will surpass 500 goals at some point this season and consistently ranks at or near the top of most lists of the best current NHL players. He will likely land in the same area on future all-time lists.
There are also stats that are less flattering. In his 11-year career, Ovechkin has amassed three suspensions totaling seven games, forfeited almost $500,000 in salary and fines, and committed a whole bunch of penalties. Additionally, he has been accused of unsportsmanlike conduct in every sense of the word. He celebrates too much, takes cheap shots, makes reckless moves, unnecessarily injures opponents, dives to the ice when barely touched, and has even been accused of not putting in enough effort, quitting, or just plain laziness on the ice.
Still, with all the controversy, fans of the player, the Capitals, the NHL, and hockey in general are captivated by Ovechkin day in and day out - easily making him one of the most hated players in the game, and a player fans really love to hate. For others, the dislike is a bit more serious. There are opponents, coaches, commentators, and even some teammates that have or had legitimate gripes with the 30-year-old phenom, and thus we bring you the Top 15 People Who Don't Like Alex Ovechkin.
15 Rick Tocchet
When Alex Ovechkin famously acknowledged his 50th goal of the 2008-09 season by placing his stick on the ice and feigned it being too hot to handle, he was undoubtedly going to irk some of the other players and people involved in the game. Count coach Rick Tocchet of the opposing Tampa Bay Lightning among them. In a postgame interview, Tocchet said in the old days, Ovechkin’s actions would have made for a much longer game for the young left winger. “It’s not something I like,” Tocchet added. “He went down a notch in my books after that.”
14 Kris Letang
Not only do players dislike it when Ovechkin takes cheap shots and commits penalties, but they get even more frustrated when he gets away without being called on it. In a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in February, 2015, Ovechkin slashed the back of defenseman Kris Letang’s skate, causing him to fall down and crash into the boards. Letang had to temporarily leave the game, and worse, Ovechkin was not penalized for the incident, later saying he was going for the puck.
Letang was less than happy with the play and the excuse, saying, “Apparently, my leg was a puck … I guess he thought his stick could go through my legs.”
13 Niklas Hjalmarsson
When it comes to non-calls, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson has an even bigger beef than Kris Letang. In a November 7, 2014 contest, Ovechkin was called for an illegal check to the head when he clipped Hjalmarsson in the noggin with his elbow and sent him crashing into the boards and down on the ice.
Instead of saving his revenge until later, Hjalmarsson immediately got up and confronted Ovechkin, and some shoving ensued between the two and a few other players. Although Ovechkin was penalized for the dangerous headshot, he was not fined or suspended.
12 Ryan Malone
Some opposing players had words about Ovechkin’s 50th goal celebration a few years back too. Tampa Bay Lightning veteran Marty St. Louis and rookie Mike McKenna chimed in after the game, but it was winger Ryan Malone that was the most critical among those involved. “He’s the game’s most dominant scorer, but to do that, especially on our ice, I took it as an insult,” Malone said in a postgame interview. “It’s embarrassing. This isn’t football.”
11 Ryan Getzlaf
On February 15, 2015, the Washington Capitals defeated the Anaheim Ducks, 5-3. Ovechkin had two goals and two assists in the game, but that’s not what bothered Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf the most - it was Ovechkin’s embellishment. Getzlaf said he didn’t know Ovechkin “was going to dive tonight the way he did all over the f---ing ice,” and that his actions are “embarrassing to the game.” It’s clear that Getzlaf is definitely not a fan of Ovechkin, but by that logic Getzlaf shouldn’t be a fan of himself either, as he’s been busted for diving too.
10 Zbynek Michalek
Alex Ovechkin is known for his hard and frequent checks, a legal move that is an important part of the game - but he is also known for often leaving his skates to do so, a clear and dangerous violation. After being fined and suspended twice in his career already, Ovechkin launched himself at Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek during a January 22, 2012 contest, made contact with the defender’s head, and knocked him down, but did not draw a penalty. Ovechkin was, however, later suspended for three games and fined for charging.
In response to the reckless headshot, Michalek dismissed that it was an accident, saying, “To me, when the play happened, he went for my head.” Thankfully, he was not injured.
9 Patrick Kaleta
Sometimes it’s not what a player says after Ovechkin crosses them, but what they do. In a game on November 25, 2009, Alex Ovechkin caught Buffalo Sabres right winger Patrick Kaleta as he turned toward the boards, knocking him down and causing a nosebleed. Ovechkin was ejected for boarding due to the head and facial injury, which was the second disqualification of his career. Kaleta responded three months later in a rematch by absolutely decimating Ovechkin as he cut across the ice. The play was ruled clean.
8 Brian Campbell
Although most of Ovechkin’s worst hits are criticized and/or penalized because of the potential to cause physical harm, some of them actually do. Just ask Brian Campbell. During a game on March 14, 2010, Ovechkin came up fast behind Campbell and shoved him, catching the defenseman completely off guard, sending him into the boards and down on the ice for a few minutes. Already having earned a suspension and three investigations that season already, Ovechkin was ejected and handed a two-day ban without pay for the hit.
That likely meant little to his victim, as Campbell sustained a broken collarbone and rib, which ended both his regular season and his 388 consecutive game streak.
7 Tim Gleason
On November 30, 2009, Ovechkin had a knee-to-knee collision with Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Tim Gleason, which resulted in a five-minute major for Ovechkin, a game misconduct call by the officials on the ice, and a two-day suspension without pay. (It was his second of the year, after a similar collision with Sergei Gonchar.) Luckily, Gleason was okay and Ovechkin later apologized, saying, “I’m glad that Tim wasn’t injured because I never ever want to see anyone get hurt.”
The whole thing seemed to be put to rest, but only two weeks later the two teams met again, and Gleason took a stick to the face - also courtesy of Ovechkin. He wasn’t as lucky this time, requiring 30 stitches and the temporary use of a full face shield. Not exactly a great way to show one’s remorse. It must have been awkward when Gleason was acquired as a rental player last season by Washington.
6 Evgeni Malkin
Alex Ovechkin and Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin have a lot in common. They are both Russian, Malkin was was picked immediately after Ovechkin in the 2004 NHL Draft, and the two were good friends and roommates during the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin. But things soon changed. Their feud may have began when Ovechkin allegedly punched out Malkin’s Russian agent at a Moscow nightclub in 2007 (Malkin claims this, Ovechkin denies it), and got so heated that later that year, at the NHL Awards Ceremony in Toronto, that the two wouldn’t even make eye contact with each other.
It carried over into the ice in January 2008 when Ovechkin attempted a particularly brutal hit on Malkin, but it appears the anger has cooled a bit since then. Still, Ovechkin and Malkin clearly had it out for each other at one point, and the former still seems to get especially riled up every time he faces the Penguins.
5 Don Cherry
When Alex Ovechkin famously and excessively celebrated his 50th goal of 2008-09, former NHL player and coach Don Cherry was probably the loudest of all the critics - which came as no surprise given Grapes' vocal style and old-school opinions. During two separate “Coach’s Corner” segments, Cherry ripped Ovechkin, stating he should “have a little class,” and calling his frequent celebrations “goofy stuff” akin to the excessiveness of soccer players. He also predicted retaliation from opposing players.
Ovechkin responded by saying Cherry is “not interesting to me” and “I don’t care about him,” adding more fuel to the fire.
4 Sidney Crosby
Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby are the two best hockey players of the current era, will go down in history as two of the best all time, and have always been at odds with each other. Though they were drafted a year apart, the 2004-05 NHL lockout made them rookies in the same year, they debuted on the same night, and Ovechkin bested Crosby for the Calder Trophy. The two relentlessly competed with each other's achievements independently until their rivalry came to a head in the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs.
In addition to scoring a hat trick each in the second game, tensions also led to a scuffle between the two. After the game, Crosby was asked about Ovechkin’s notorious celebratory antics and said, “That's what he does. Some people like it, some people don't. Personally, I don't like it.”
3 Mike Milbury
On February 27, 2013, the Philadelphia Flyers defeated Alex Ovechkin’s Capitals by a score of 4-1, but NHL on NBC sportscaster Mike Milbury didn’t even wait until the end of the game before ripping into the Cap’s captain. Among his numerous complaints, Milbury criticized Ovechkin for a senseless blind pass, having “no fight” along the wall, and acting “like a baby” during what he deemed “ridiculous embellishment … Get up and act like a man, for God’s sake,” he said.
Overall, Milbury called it “inexcusable and unacceptable” and “an awful display of hockey,” adding that Ovechkin “should be embarrassed by this, and so should his teammates.”
2 Marty McSorley
During the 2011-12 season, many analysts and commentators were down on Ovechkin. His play was declining, he was a minus player, and lots of people thought he was done. Most came around, but Sportsnet’s Marty McSorley still wasn’t buying it. He called Ovechkin “hype,” saying he isn’t good enough to be traded for players like Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Anze Kopitar, or Ryan Getzlaf. McSorley also added that Ovechkin “cheats on the ice,” is not “an example that the young kids need to watch,” and still has “a long way to go to get hockey people to believe that he’s in the MVP category.” Not that McSorley was a saint in his playing days, though.
1 Max Talbot
When it comes to comments made about Alex Ovechkin, center Max Talbot takes the top prize for getting personal. Back in July of 2010 as a member of the Penguins, Talbot went on a Pittsburgh morning talk radio and said in regard to Ovechkin: “I just hate the guy.” And he didn’t just mean as a player either. Talbot said he didn’t like the Capitals star from the first time he met him, at the NHL Awards, and called Ovechkin “a real douche.” He added that he was happy Ovechkin wouldn’t be playing in the Winter Classic. Luckily for Talbot, he won’t have to face Ovechkin anytime soon, as he’s currently playing in the AHL.
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