Already this month, Mike Milbury and Jeremy Roenick have called out Alex Ovechkin for his effort in NHL games, with Roenick then writing a blog item arguing that there’s no structure to Ovechkin’s game and that you can’t win with him.
So when the Russians and Ovechkin crashed out in the Olympic quarterfinals Wednesday morning after months of hype, it isn’t surprising that the postgame analysis soon turned to Washington’s star.
NBC host Liam McHugh actually brought Ovechkin up first, asking Roenick what he saw from Ovechkin in five Olympic games, and how much responsibility he deserves for his country’s disappointment.
“It’s a lot, especially after the things that he said before the tournament about having the pressure and liking the pressure and having all eyes on him,” Roenick said. “After that first minute [of the first game], I saw nothing from Alex Ovechkin. I actually saw a lot of misplays, a lot of miscues with the puck, missed shots, a lot of not digging in the corners. And Alex has to be really careful now not to be remembered — or not to have the stigma — of being a one-dimensional hockey player. Because in this tournament, he was non-existent.”
“We’ve seen his effort, we’ve seen his physicality,” Milbury picked up. “We clearly can see his goal-scoring ability. But I haven’t seen this player change over time. He needs to learn the game, become a student of the game, become passionate about the game — not just about his own results but about the results of his team and the way he makes teammates around him better. Right now, I don’t think he does that.”
“Unfortunately we always seem to resort back to the same guys,” Roenick then admitted. “But when it’s the same guys that are making the kind of money that they’re making in the National Hockey League — guys that are looked upon, that have the captains and the alternate captains on their sweaters — they’re the ones that are going to have to be held accountable. And that’s why they keep being brought up.”
“But this was not about money,” Milbury concluded. “This was representing their country, in their back yards, with the president of the country sitting around waiting for them to do something special. And they laid a big fat egg.”
Earlier, Milbury had suggested that while veterans like Pavel Datsyuk would spend decades ruing this loss, other Russians might not.
“Sadly, I think for other members of this Russian team — because I didn’t see the level of commitment from them – it won’t mean that much to them,” Milbury said. “They’ll just carry on. And therein lies, I think, the sad root of the problem. … They were outworked. … Certainly the Finns had better structure, better cohesiveness and far more effort than the Russians from the beginning. This was a team that looked like they were going to run to their talent, tried to play too much one-on-one. And in the end it cost them hockey games and I think it should cost them their ego.”