Jason Arnott has already earned a reputation for brutal, searing, biting, uncomfortable, avert-your-eyes honesty during his brief time in D.C. — telling Alex Semin he needs “a little more discipline” in his game and telling the Caps dressing room “I don’t care if our players want to hear it, I’m gonna say some things that need to be said.”
So I guess it figures that Arnott would openly discuss his perceptions of Russian players and how that influenced his view of Alex Ovechkin before he arrived in Washington.
“I really didn’t think that he wanted to win as much as he does,”Arnott told ESPN 980’s Sports Reporters on Friday. “I guess there’s a judgment placed on either European players or Russian players, that they play hard but do they really want to win, to win the Stanley Cup? It’s bad to put that on them, but that’s kind of the perception that we get.
“And I knew nothing about Ovi, just from playing against him that he comes to compete every single night and he plays as hard as as he can every single night. But just by talking to him and hanging out with him as much as I can, this guy really really really wants to win....This guy really wants to win, and that impressed me a lot.”
I think Arnott thinks Ovechkin wants to win. Arnott was also asked about all this chatter about how he shook up the team with his honest assessment, and he was happy to explain.
“I really didn’t know how the response was gonna be, but I felt that I had to say something,” Arnott said. “Just from the things that I saw in the first game going forward, that if we played like that or similar to that it’d be an early season for us. So I just wanted to voice my opinion, and the guys took it the way they took it and kind of responded to it. And that’s the only thing you can ask, is just voice your opinion and hopefully they listen.”
Arnott said he had watched the HBO series on the Caps this winter — along with his wife and son and parents — and that he already had some ideas of what he’d need to say before he arrived.
“Just the little things that they were going through in that losing skid, the way they were playing were the things that I caught on to when i got here, things that I had in the back of my mind that I would like to voice my opinion on,” he said. “Especially coming from [Devils Coach Jacques Lemaire], who's such a defensive-minded guy and turned us around in New Jersey, I had a few ideas for us here that could really help us and move us forward and move us in the right direction.”