Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Star Quarterback and the Girl Next Door

The star quarterback is going steady with the girl next door, and the prom queen seems beside herself with jealousy.

Such is where we seem to find ourselves with respect to Alex Ovechkin, Washington, and Montreal.

Once more, we are treated to a column in the Montreal Gazette that expresses longing at the possibility – remote though it is – that the “star quarterback” will forgo the plain girl next door for the prom queen, that Alex Ovechkin will forsake Washington and succumb to temptation to play for the Montreal Canadiens come October.

The “prom queen” in this case has everything going for it…24 Stanley Cups, a history that defines the term “legendary” for the sport of hockey – both with respect to the club and its long list of hall of fame players – and a fine arena filled every night with some of the most ardent and knowledgeable fans on the planet. And, in a new twist, the prom queen is apparently Russian.

Jack Todd goes over ground he’s plowed before, adding this time that Ovechkin did not dismiss a desire to play in Montreal out of hand in the post game interviews, and that after all, not only would the Canadiens offer all that history and adulation from a rabid fan base, but the Canadien locker room would be scarcely different than that he might find playing for Moscow Dynamo – Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn, Ovechkin’s “great and good friend” Andrei Markov, Alexei Kovalev, Mikhail Grabovski. And if that isn’t enough, Ovechkin just might leave for the real thing – an $8 million tax-free pay day in Russia. But he might, “for the right inducement - say 15 years at $10 million per year… elect to play in a place where his talents will be appreciated, which will never be the case in the U.S. capital.” That place is, of course, Montreal.

What we suspect Todd knows, but in the blindness of desire has set aside, is that the matter is not Ovechkin’s to “elect.” He can influence the process, make his desires known, even forgo the NHL to return to Russia. But as a matter concerning from which city he draws an NHL paycheck, the decision rests with Washington. And not matching terms of an offer sheet tendered to Ovechkin, should it come to that, just isn’t an option for this franchise. As for a trade?...there is no conceivable trade that would bring back anything approaching equivalent value. With there being the right of first refusal held by the Capitals, there is no undue pressure to take a “less than market value” trade, as might exist if the player could walk free and clear at season’s end.

But there is a much more basic problem with the whole argument. …Ovechkin hasn’t given any indication he is unhappy with the girl next door.

True, Ovechkin responded to a reporter’s question yesterday on the matter of how he likes playing in Montreal that, “"This is my favourite city. The crowds, the noise, the music. It's a great place to play. I love to be here." But that is not the same as saying “I want to play for the Canadiens.” And while it is also true that Ovechkin can’t, as a practical matter, go around making that sort of statement, it is quite a leap of logic to conclude that he does not like playing in Washington. The personality he shows to the public in D.C. is hardly that of a player checking airline schedules for the first flight out of DC at season’s end (unless it is to head back home to Russia for home and vacation).

The unspoken theme here – and it is always the theme – is that Washington doesn’t deserve Ovechkin, and [fill in the name of your favorite hockey team] does. One can almost hear the prom queen spitting out the words under her breath, “she doesn’t deserve him, he should be with me.”

Well, sometimes, the star quarterback finds happiness with the girl next door.


Anonymous said...

How many damn games do we have to win to change the freakin playoff advisory meter???? Are we going to be in 1st place before it changes? As for Mtl I couldn't have summed it up better. These slappy fish hacks ALWAYS downplay the fact that Ovechkin has no power. It's all Teddy's. And it was extremely comical to hear him briefly mention that little thing called a Salary Cap. If we were dumb enough to let him reach RFA there would be 20 teams with better offers than Mtl. In the end it's great to have a player that causes this much jealousy and longing. I can't wait to read the articles when Ovey resigns. A couple of these guys(see Brooks and Todd) will probably commit suicide.


The Peerless said...

If the Caps have a good week, the playoff meter is likely to change, but for the moment...they are still in 14th place in the conference.