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Setting The Record Straight

The Vancouver Province decried "Ovechkin Suspended for Headhunting." The Winnipeg Sun header was "Ovechkin Gets One Game For High Hit." The Barrie Examiner's title read "Ovechkin Gets 1-Game Suspension."

Not only were the three headlines discussing the same incident, they were all titling the same exact AP article. Interesting how in an NHL city, AO's labelled a headhunter, while in a small town, he's just a guy who got a one-game suspension.

As for the hit that led to the suspension, here it is:



Now, I've been accused of being an Ovechkin apologist before, but this hit certainly didn't look dirty to me. The Swiss Miss had the puck, had his head down, and AO, standing flat-footed caught him with his shoulder, not an elbow. Two minutes for roughing? Perhaps. Two and ten? It is international hockey, so if those are the rules, those are the rules. But a suspension? Get real - last I checked, hockey was a contact sport.

Regardless, Ovechkin is starting to gain a reputation as a questionable hitter, and undeservedly so. In two NHL seasons, Ovechkin has been credited with 356 hits and exactly one major penalty for a bad hit. I haven't done the research, but I'm willing to wager there aren't too many other forwards with that many hits and that good a "clean hit" ratio.

But when newspaper editors (who no doubt never even saw the hit) in NHL cities are calling him a headhunter, it's certainly not a good thing, and, unfortunately, it's something with which he's going to have to deal going forward.