Earlier today, I spoke to a handful of Caps about Alex Ovechkin's latest controversy. All said -- not surprisingly -- that they felt the five-minute major for boarding and game misconduct were a bit harsh.
But two of Ovechkin's teammates had interesting takes on the hit that left Chicago defenseman Brian Campbell possibly out for the season with a reported broken collarbone, rib and concussion.
Veteran Mike Knuble did not want to comment specifically on the hit, but the 37-year-old did say he would like to see his hard-hitting teammate tone down some of his aggressiveness, if for no other reason than self-preservation.
"He has the reputation that he plays hard," Knuble said. "But things seem to be happening around him. You would like to see him being more careful because, number one, you don't want to see him hurt himself and, number two, so he doesn't miss games -- for our benefit."
Knuble also said he spoke to Ovechkin about doing a better job picking his spots during a blowout victory in Denver on Dec. 15.
"There was something in the corner with maybe five minutes left," Knuble said. "[Ovechkin] kind of went at a guy. [The score] was 6-1. I was kind of like, 'Slow down a bit, just for your own sake. You don't need to accidentally catch your knee on somebody.'"
The conversation came after Ovechkin already had been fined for slew-footing Altanta's Rich Peverley, missed six games for a shoulder injury resulting from a scrum against Columbus, an ejection for boarding Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta and a two-game suspension for kneeing Carolina's Tim Gleason.
"There are some times," Knuble added, "when as a player, you can save yourself a little bit."
Eric Fehr also weighed in on Sunday's hit, saying that while he doesn't agree with the major penalty Ovechkin was assessed, he does think the NHL should consider the extent of injury when determining whether to suspend a player who gets a major.
"I think a player's injury should come into play -- if the hit was illegal," he said. "But this was a very questionable call for a five-minute major. It was a hit from the side and he fell in awkwardly. But if the league decides the hit is illegal, then maybe injury should come into play. I think it's fair that if you hit a guy [who is] in a bad position, that maybe you should pay for that."
In the meantime, we're all still waiting to find out whether the NHL feels it's time for Ovechkin to pay up.