Capitals associate goalie coach Olie Kolzig raised a few eyebrows Wednesday when he questioned the work ethic of Alex Ovechkin, adding that the 26-year-old captain was guilty of being wrapped up in his rock star status.
On Thursday Ovechkin laughed about the accusations, but Capitals general manager George McPhee didnt, saying Kolzig was right.
I dont disagree with anything that Olie said, McPhee said. What we have to understand is that Olie had one of the highest work ethics of any player weve ever seen and its hard for anybody to match his level and he holds everybody to that standard.
When you look at a player like Ovechkin he wouldnt be who he is if he didnt work hard. But like all the great ones, whether its a (Mario) Lemieux or a (Sergei) Fedorov or a Corey Perry or an Ovechkin, there are nights when you may not be giving everything but your skill makes a difference and you help your club win a game.
What we all learn is that you have to be reminded once in a while that if you are working hard all the time thats when you become unstoppable.
You have to push them from time to time. But a lot of the great ones have done that and Ovi does it from time to time. Sometimes the game comes easy to you and you have to remind them youre not going to win consistently doing that. If we push you and youre working hard every night thats when youre a handful.
Kolzig is in his first year as an associate goalie coach and has spent much of the season traveling to the Capitals minor-league teams. He was on the ice with the Capitals on Thursday and was seen joking with Ovechkin.
Ovechkin said he was aware of Kolzigs comments.
About the rock star? he asked. Yeah, I just want to look like him. Hes a rock star. Actually, he was a rock star and now hes in retirement. Its a normal situation. I dont think half the guys paid lots of attention to what he said.
Kolzig also said he does not see the same unbridled enthusiasm for the game that Ovechkin showed when the two were teammates in Ovechkins first three seasons in the NHL.
Said Ovechkin: Hes not on the team right now, hes on travel. He only sees a couple games and I was suspended so he didnt see me lots of time like he used to see me. Im always happy. Life is great.