By Derek Felix
You would think after what 2018 Conn Smythe winner Alexander Ovechkin has been through that everyone who covers him would be happy. Many of the hockey media expressed their joy for the outstanding postseason the emotional three-time Hart winner had in finally leading the Capitals to its first Stanley Cup.
It was a long time coming. After all the postseason nightmares in the second round to the Penguins and Rangers, Ovechkin and a worthy group of teammates conquered their demons. The 32-year old Russian never played better hockey in his life. Despite all the Rocket Richards, and 607 goals, he truly was the passionate leader of the 2017-18 Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals.
Nobody is more deserving than the electrifying captain of the Caps. It wasn’t only the playoff-leading 15 goals and 12 assists totaling 27 points- ranking just behind this postseason’s leading scorer, linemate Evgeny Kuznetsov, who finished with 32 points (12-20-32). The most in one postseason since Pens’ superstar Evgeni Malkin produced 36 in 2009. It was the sacrifices a burning Great Eight made to lead his team by example. He was determined to do whatever it took to win this Spring. He was more committed defensively, racing back as he did to deny a Golden Knights breakaway chance. He dove to block shots when it was necessary as many Capitals did. As usual, there was the trademark Ovi human freight train hits throughout the run.
That’s why it’s absolutely ridiculous to see what the miserable Larry Brooks wrote in his column Slap Shots that appeared in the New York Post. So, if we’re to understand it, so because Ovechkin and the Capitals didn’t go through Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers, it doesn’t count. Or at least that’s what Brooks insinuates. It’s as if it’s not the same due to Ovechkin not having to beat Lundqvist. Correct me if I’m wrong here. How did the early match-ups go between the two? How did Lundqvist perform along with the Rangers this past season? They finished dead last in the division.
It’s time to put this nonsense to bed. I get that Brooks is a bitter pill. If I didn’t know any better, he could be related to Oscar The Grouch. At least that was Sesame Street fun. Sometimes, I get the distinct impression that Brooks thinks he invented hockey. Until he’s put out to pasture, he’ll continue to harp on the negatives, including playing the role of Scrooge when it comes to the amazing run the expansion Vegas Golden Knights had.
He can be a real curmudgeon. It’s not the Knights’ fault the NHL set up this new playoff format which by the way, the NHLPA signed off on. It must’ve been my imagination that the Golden Knights ran through the Winnipeg Jets in five games. Save us the excuses that they played Nashville the previous round. Vegas went six against the Sharks. They earned the right to play for Lord Stanley, and didn’t roll over in Game Five. They made the Caps earn it.
If you cannot see why the Vegas run was so great for the sport, please don’t cover hockey anymore. Turn in your media credentials and go back to the bar. It’s time for this undeserving fool to retire.
Brooks and that troll Brett Cyrgalis have made more enemies covering this sport than most. It makes me glad Dan Boyle stood up to them.