So, when an NHL team is done for the year it holds a Breakdown Day – that annual ritual where reporters meet one last time with players and coaches and the players pack their gear and start their exit meetings with team officials.
Alex Ovechkin’s chat with reporters took an interesting turn about midway through. Not sure I know exactly what to make of it so I’m going with a partial transcript of his comments and let you, the reader, decide what he meant. Trying not to take anything out of context here so I left everything in – “likes” and “you knows” and all. This was a series of three questions in a row. Here goes:
What do you think the team needs moving forward? Can you play the same way? Do you need a coach with a completely different style…
“Well, I don’t know, first of all, who's going to be the coach next year. But I think, like, the leaders in this group have to be together and don't look at, like, you know – don’t be, sometimes, like, you know, I don't know how to much explain better, but sometimes you don't have to be jealous. You know, like, I don't want to say, like, it was a jealousy situation for us, but sometimes you just have to be a group together. It was, how I said after the game, it was best team I played in the Capitals. But after the loss you just thinking and you, like, you have to be together all the time. It doesn’t matter, like, if you lose or you win. ”
Jealous you mean in ice time? You mean jealous…to what? I don’t understand that?
“I don't want to say persons, I don't want to say, like, you know, situations, but sometimes, like, you just know, like, some guys and, like, if you didn't play well they just look at you and like, you know... Of course, you can see it, I can see it and somebody else gonna see it and it's not the way, like, we gonna win the game.”
What did you go through as a team to get everyone to buy in and play consistently every night?
Well, just simple things. I think in the playoffs - we was a team in the playoffs. I don’t think, like, I don’t know if you guys see that or not, but I was in locker room, I was on the bus, I was on plane. And it was a team. But you lose like a team and you win like a team. I don’t think, like, you can say one person was make mistake and, you know, somebody was doing bad things in the year. But again, you have to learn it. Every time you take a step you have to learn the step, you know. And after this year, like I don’t think, like, somebody going to say it was a bad year. Yeah, of course we lost, but you know we try. We’re going to take good things about this year, like, I don’t know who’s going to be coach, but he’s going to know, like, we can play “D” and this group of guys can do, like, jobs, you know.”
Okay then. That seems to indicate something beyond normal tension in the locker room – though Ovechkin does say things were better in the playoffs. Of course, the team was winning then. That’s usually a pretty super tonic. This also dovetails with something defenseman Karl Alzner said repeatedly late in the season: That the team would have the occasional screaming session when things got tense during a difficult playoff race late in the season.
“When you go through a lot of the ups and down – and stuff on the ice, but off the ice – we’ve had meetings and yelling matches, just as every team does, and when you have that and you get things all out in the open things usually get better after that. It’s kind of a stupid saying, but someone said it and it was perfect. It’s ‘You got to crack a couple eggs to make an omelet.’ And that’s exactly what’s happened. We kind of broke things down and slowly start to build it up. It’s going to be exciting to see how everything pans out.”
But did that omelet come at a cost of hard feelings?
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