The hockey world is abuzz with the news that Alexander Ovechkin was scratched from last nights game versus the San Jose Sharks. “Personal reasons” turned out to be oversleeping and missing the morning skate. As you would expect, the comments around the internet range from “great call Trotz”, to the usual “this is why Ovi will never win a cup”; as if one practice in 10 years dooms a player forever. So what should Caps fans take away from it?
The first thing is, coach Trotz treats all of his players the same. No special treatment for superstars. The second is that Alexander Ovechkin manned up in his presser today. He took the blame, never complained and seemed to be in agreement with the decision. Exactly what you want to hear from your captain. The third thing, and the one we really need to ignore right now in favor of the first two; as of right now the Capitals are not a very good team minus Nick Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin.
Things happen. Why Ovechkin overslept and the outcome of one game are minor details in the bigger picture. As a coach you have to let your players know everyone will be treated the same. Doing anything else can spell disaster. You might even look for a star player to make an example out of early on in a season. You do that so that you don’t get stuck with the situation when it really matters and making the point is costly. From youth sports all the way up to the NHL, you look for places to set the right tone. For coach Trotz, two games into the season and with Alexander Ovechkin, there is no better time or player to make the point. Ovechkin gets that. He made a mistake, he payed the price and he’ll look the rest of the team in the eyes and take the blame and the punishment. That’s why he’s a great captain and why Barry Trotz is a great coach. It might have cost us two points last night, (though we were so bad who knows) but it may well add points as the season goes on. Perfectly handled by coach and captain.
By Ernie Mudd