There is little doubt that the Washington Capitals have a potential superstar in the making with Alexander Ovechkin. At the beginning of the season, not that many people picked Ovechkin to win the Calder Trophy with Sidney Crosby
the odds on favourite. So it comes as a bit of a shock to see that Ovechkin has scored 44 goals and 42 assists for 86 points in 67 games and is by far the favourite to win rookie of the year. Now along comes news that the Washington Capitals may not be all that happy with his play and sent a mesage to their leading scorer earlier this week by benching the rookie phenom for more than 14 minutes in a 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
Capitals coach Glen Hanlon has apparently had enough of Ovechkin not following team policies by missing defensive zone assignments and taking very long shifts. The situation came to ahead on Monday night when the Caps were shorthanded in second period. Ovechkin left the defensive zone waiting for a breakaway pass but the puck never got to him and he was badly out of position. This left the Caps with a 5-on-3 situation deep in their own end. During one point in the game, Hanlon wanted Ovechkin to get off the ice but he allegedly ignored the coach's orders. As a result, Ovechkin sat out the last 3 minutes of the second period and the first 11 minutes of the third.
The question being raised on many forums and blogs is whether the Caps/Hanlon were right in benching him. Hockey is at its very basics a team game and one player simply cannot overcome the whole opposing team by himself (atleast not on a consistent basis). Ovechkin must learn that the National Hockey League features not only the best players in the world, but also some of the best hockey teams. If he wants to succeed he must learn how to play within a team, taking direction from the coach and his fellow teammates. Just being a goal hog won't cut it in the NHL.