The situation with the Miami Dolphins — in which offensive lineman Richie Incognito has been suspended for hazing teammate Jonathan Martin so intensely that Martin left the team – has brought a focus on the inner-workings of locker rooms in all sports that may be unprecedented. Tuesday night, Alex Ovechkin playfully “hazed” Capitals rookie Tom Wilson by smearing shaving cream across his face after Wilson completed a game in which he recorded both his first NHL point and scored his first NHL goal.
But speaking after practice Wednesday, Ovechkin said serious hazing has no place in hockey.
“I don’t think we have that kind of stuff when you have to do some crazy things to” rookies, Ovechkin said. “I don’t think it’s fair. If you play three years in the league or two years in the league, and you go and tell the guy who just came to the league, ‘All right, you’re a rookie.’ I don’t think it’s fair. It’s stupid.”
Ovechkin, a top overall pick in the NHL draft, experienced no such thing in his first year in the league.
“I think when I was a rookie, I get lots of respect,” he said. “I came here, my English [stunk]. And everybody just helped me.”
It has taken time for that culture to develop. When Adam Oates, now the Capitals coach but a rookie in 1985-86, came up, things were different.
“My first couple years, and obviously prior to when I came in the league, the rookies got hazed pretty good,” Oates said. “But it’s not the same. … I thought it borderline crossed the line. It was a little bit unfair. I understand hazing and all that, but [it went] a little bit too far.”
Oates said he remembers that one team – he couldn’t remember which – stopped the practice of shaving rookies’ heads.
“They’re NHL guys,” Oates said. “They’re professional. You don’t want that look.”
Shaving cream in the face after a personal milestone, though?
“Shaving cream is good,” Ovechkin said, smiling. “That’s a good part of it.”