Ovechkin's check reckless, uncalled for

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:49 PM ET

Alex Ovechkin likely will not receive any further punishment for shoving Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Brian Campbell from behind into the unforgiving United Center boards Sunday afternoon.

At the same time, what could the Not So Great Eight have possibly been thinking?

It was a poor decision. It was reckless. And it was uncalled for.

At the same time, don’t expect a suspension to be handed out in this matter, according to a league source.

While Ovechkin deservedly was slapped with a boarding major and game misconduct for his brain cramp, league officials know it did not contain the same type of intent or viciousness as the incident one week earlier in which the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Matt Cooke blindsided Boston’s Marc Savard, leaving the Bruins forward likely out for the season with a concussion.

By not suspending Cooke for a far more malicious act, how could the NHL justify any supplemental discipline for Ovechkin in this matter?

“I didn’t hit him hard,” Ovechkin told reporters, referring to Campbell. “He fell bad. But you can see, every shift this happens - little pushes, little battles ... I didn’t think it deserved five minutes.”

That doesn’t mean Ovechkin will be off the hook. Far from it.

Ovechkin plays on the edge. More than once he has gone over it, as witnessed by his two-game suspension for kneeing during a game Nov. 30.

And now, given yet another example of his poor decision making, count on the NHL monitoring his antics even more closely, even if he is a superstar.

After a week in which the Cooke affair put any kind of grey-area hits under the microscope, the last thing a franchise player should be doing is something stupid like this.

Campbell did not return to the game and “is going to be out for a bit,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said after the Hawks’ 4-3 overtime loss.

“It was a tough hit, a dangerous hit.”

Net pains

With public opinion strongly in favour of Chicago bringing in a goalie at the March 3 trade deadline, the Hawks opted to stand pat and lean on veteran Cristobal Huet and rookie Antti Niemi.

Will that decision end up being the one stumbling block that keeps the talent-rich Hawks from capturing their first Stanley Cup in almost five decades?

That question is blowing through the Windy City after a pair of third=period collapses by Chicago left the Hawks with back-to-back losses.

On Saturday, the visiting Hawks, having blown a 2-1 advantage in the final frame, appeared to be headed for overtime only to see the Philadelphia’s Chris Pronger beat Huet in the game’s dying seconds with the game winner in a 3-2 Flyers victory.

Less than 24 hours later, Niemi and the Hawks blew a 3-0 lead to the Ovechkin-less Caps en route to a stunning 4-3 loss in front of a disgruntled crowd at the United Centre.

Let the second-guessing begin.

From Doghouse to Penthouse

Just two days after his controversial benching against the Atlanta Thrashers by coach John Tortorella, Sean Avery was at his ornery best, scoring two goals en route to leading the New York Rangers to a 3-1 victory over the rival Flyers Sunday.

With fans at Madison Square Garden chanting “Avery, Avery,” the Rangers forward was selected the game’s first star.

What a difference a weekend makes.

Draft planner

With a Top Three pick a virtual certainty at the June entry draft, Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini wants to get a first-hand peep at the upper echelon prospects.

Tambellini was in Kingston Friday to look at Frontenacs defenceman Erik Gudbranson, ranked third overall by North American Central Scouting. On Sunday, he was in Plymouth watching Whaler forward Tyler Seguin, who scored versus Saginaw.

The Week Ahead

Prior to the Penguins-Bruins rematch in Boston Thursday, the 1970 Stanley Cup champion “Big Bad Bruins” will be honoured. No word on if former tough guy Wayne Cashman will be looking for Cooke, who will be facing the Bruins for the first time since the Savard incident ... Former Leaf Dominic Moore will make his first Toronto appearance in a Montreal Canadiens jersey when the Habs visit the Leafs Saturday.

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca


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