Ovechkin: 'We're in middle of nowhere'

Ovechkin: 'We're in middle of nowhere'
April 14, 2014, 5:00 pm
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Washington Capitals right wing Alex Ovechkin (8) yells prior to a face-off against the Dallas Stars in the third period at Verizon Center. The Stars won 5-0.

(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

For the first time since the spring of 2007, Alex Ovechkin has no chance of winning a Stanley Cup. And because of that, the 28-year-old captain faced some tough questions during the Capitals’ breakup day at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

Here’s a blow-by-blow account of how Ovechkin feels about the way he and his team played during the 2013-14 season and what changes need to take place in the offseason.

On missing the playoffs being a wakeup call:

Of course it’s wakeup call for everybody, for us and for the bosses. I’m pretty sure everybody upset. It’s good wakeup call and I’m hopeful for next year we’re going to be better. [Whoever] is going to be on the team, these guys have to be better.

On which coach provided the best way to play: 

I was not comfortable playing with [Dale] Hunter’s system and I’m comfortable with [Adam Oates’] system and I was comfortable with Bruce [Boudreau’s] system as well. Be honest with you, I don’t know if you can put something on the system right now. You have to put it on players. It doesn’t matter what system you’re going to play. The players have to respond, the players have to give everything they have out there. I’m pretty sure if somebody is going to say the system is bad, look at yourself. Look at the video. If you don’t make a pass, why are you playing in the NHL? Everybody can throw puck at the glass and say I’m OK. If you’re a forward you have to score goals and try to do something if you can’t score goals and you can’t blame on system right now because it’s not about the system. It’s all about us.

[RELATED Fates of McPhee, Oates lie in the hands of Leonsis] 

On scoring 51 goals and finishing a minus-35:

It’s no surprise it kind of sucks to have that kind of minus, but it’s not only one player out there who have minus. You can see everybody, Backy [Nicklas Backstrom, minus-20], Browsie [Troy Brouwer, minus-6], everybody have minus. Yeah, I’m only one who have minus-30, but it’s kind of situation when I have what I have.

On whether he needs to do more than score goals:

If you remember when I think Hunter was here and I didn’t score goals, you guys said, ‘Why don’t you score goals?’ I said, ‘My job to block shots.’ Whole world say ‘Ovi stop playing what he used to play, he’s gone. We never going to see him again.’ I don’t want to turn my back on this kind of position again. I get paid to score goals. I scored 50. You can’t point to one guy and say he didn’t do his job. Look at everybody’s numbers. Watch the video and everybody have a bad year. That’s it.

On whether he is tired of shouldering the blame for the Capitals’ shortcomings:

I’m not a judge. It’s wakeup call for everybody. I’m pissed because somebody says it’s bad system. I’m pissed about it’s bad situation when we didn’t play well. I’m a player, everybody players. Why were we in the playoffs last year? Because nobody point fingers on somebody. Everybody was in same position and everybody played for each other.

On the Capitals’ 5-on-5 play, where they were outscored 155-139.

It’s a situation when right now, 5-on-5 is very difficult to play. If you score on power play and you get the lead guys who play 5-on-5 will get more open and get more chances. If it’s a tie game or situation is 1-1 or 2-2, it’s so hard to score because everybody plays five guys in the [defensive] zone and everybody plays around the goalie. 

On if he’d like to see roster changes:

It’s not my job to be honest with you, to hire new players or make trades. It’s basically, how I say, I’m a player and I want to win. I’m going to do everything for the win.

On if he thinks the current roster can win:

Yeah, if we’re on the same page. If we’re going to put somebody in position to be put under the bus, of course nobody going to win.

On his relationship with Adam Oates:

The coaching staff, no problem at all. I don’t think any guy have problem with Oatesy or somebody on the coaching staff.

On if he and Oates talked about Oates’ “quit’ comment:

Yeah, of course we talk. I feel bad, but no excuses. I know as a captain I can’t stop playing but I did and it was my fault. He give me bad words, but it is what it is.

On why the Capitals have gone from 121 points to 90 in four years: 

To be honest with you I don’t have time to think about it yet. We’re in a hard position right now. We’re in middle of nowhere because we did not make the playoffs. If we made the playoffs we will talk about how we have to play against Boston or somebody else. Right now we talk about what happen four years ago. Four years ago was a different team, four years was a different coach, different system, everything was different. Right now I don’t have a good time to think about what happened four years ago and right now.

On getting everyone on the same page:

Of course for next year I’m pretty sure all the guys who are going to be on the team know we have to get the points right away because of what happened. We had a bad start, then we were in playoff position  then we lose seven games. Basically, we start fighting for playoffs after New Year’s, right away. Those kind of points when we lose before, that’s what we were missing. Every point, it counts from the beginning to the end of the year.

On if playing hockey is still fun:

I don’t say I’m tired of criticism. It’s part of my job. I’m captain of the team and of course I have to take responsibility, I have to take criticism. It’s not about I’m tired, maybe it’s just bad translation. I don’t know how to explain it to you guys right now, but it’s not a position where you have to blame one guy. We all play together, start from goalie and through Aaron Volpatti, everybody has to play better.

On if he wants to stay in Washington:

That’s why I signed [a 13-year, $124 million contract]. I feel comfortable, I love the fans, I love the city. This organization gave me a lot and I want to bring Cup here.

On if he’s tired of being labeled a coach killer:

Because I have 13 years on my deal of course some change is going to happen. This kind of position where I have 13 years, Backy have [10] years. So me and Backy coach killers, basically.

On getting the Capitals to the next level:

It’s a business and you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I have seven years left, Backy has six years left. My job is to give everything that I can for this organization. I don’t want to think about a trade, I don’t want to think about if I’m going to be traded. I’m never going to ask to be traded. If it’s going to happen it’s not going to happen [through the media]. It’s going to happen to Ted or general manager because it’s personal and you have to be respectful with organization.

On how close the Capitals are to winning a Stanley Cup:

Not right now. We’ll see what happens next year. The pieces are here. I’m pretty sure the coaching staff, bosses going to talk and they going to decide what we’re missing and my job and different players’ job is not to talk about the position with our team. Our job is to play hockey. Doesn’t matter who’s going to be on the roster next year. We just have to win.