By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 4, 2006
Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin is not expected to face further disciplinary action for his controversial hit on Buffalo Sabres captain Daniel Briere, Capitals General Manager George McPhee said yesterday.
Ovechkin checked Briere from behind as the center headed to the bench for a line change in the second period of the Capitals' 7-4 victory on Saturday over the Eastern Conference leaders at Verizon Center. Ovechkin -- a physical player, but with no reputation for dirty play -- was assessed a five-minute boarding major and a game misconduct, ejecting him from the contest.
Afterward, Sabres Coach Lindy Ruff called for Ovechkin to receive additional punishment from the NHL, saying: "We don't want those hits in the game. If [the Capitals] looked at it through their eyes, they wouldn't want to see Ovechkin run from behind after a couple of seconds. . . . There should be some type of disciplinary action for that."
It won't be forthcoming. The Capitals aren't expecting their star, who drew an automatic $100 fine, to face any additional penalties.
Briere called the hit "gutless" while his teammate, Paul Gaustad, described it as a "dirty hit" in yesterday's Buffalo News.
Ovechkin, speaking after the game, said the hit was anything but. "I don't want to give him some injury," he said. "It was accident. I don't try to hurt him."
Regardless, the teams' next meeting, Dec. 26th in Buffalo, is sure to be an interesting one.
Briere had dumped the puck into the Capitals' zone when Ovechkin arrived a split-second later, hitting Briere between the shoulder blades. The force sent the much smaller Briere headfirst into the dasher boards and his helmet flying. Although he appeared to be injured, lying face down for several moments, he returned for his next shift.
Gaustad immediately came to Briere's defense, throwing several punches at Ovechkin, who did not retaliate during a fracas that resulted in 79 total penalty minutes. Gaustad and another Sabre, Adam Mair, were also given game misconducts.