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In Wilbon's World

Ovechkin's snow patrol

Is this thing with Alex Ovechkin and the kid in Montreal really that big a deal? Quick story: when I was 13, 14 years old I went to a game at Comiskey Park in Chicago and sat along right field railing right by the old "bullpen dugout" where in this case the Boston Red Sox spare pitchers and catchers sat. I think it was a double header and Carlton Fisk wasn't catching the second game, which is why he was in the bullpen dugout. Anyway, I made a nuisance of myself for about six innings, leaning over and shouting into the dugout...Finally, having had enough of this young punk, Fisk took his dusty, musty catcher's mitt and washed my face with it.

I was thrilled. A future Hall of Famer smushed my face. Five or six years ago after a round of golf in Lake Tahoe I was on a gondola ride with Fisk and his wife and told him about the incident and how happy I was at that age to be engaged by a big leaguer. The point is, aren't you supposed to be thrilled if a future Hall of Famer like Ovechkin, the most exciting player in the league, sprays you with some ice shavings? That was cool when I grew up. What happened?

Not surprisingly, around here any observation or criticism of Ovechkin, no matter how mild or legit, is simply brushed aside by Capitals fans, as if Ovechkin is perfect. Look, he's a roughneck, and where I come from that's 75 percent compliment when you make a living in sports. He seems to be hellbent from the time he leaves the locker room, which is surely part of what makes him the most exciting player in the NHL. But that's always a thin line to walk when you're a franchise player, when you're one of the best players in the league.

By

Michael Wilbon

 |  April 23, 2010; 10:03 AM ET  |  Category:  Alexander Ovechkin , NHL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Wilbits: Playoffs vs. draft | Next: So much for all the panic

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Wilbone: you lied on you Q and A today. You DID say Ovie can never win a championship. If you are backing off that position, at least be man enough to admit it. Instead of claiming you never said it.

Posted by: poguesmahone | May 5, 2010 8:01 PM
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Mike, ignore the haters who think you know nothing about hockey because you are black. I am black and have watched the NHL since 1965 and I am certain that I have forgotten more hockey than the Capital fans collectively will ever know. Nice regular season team you have built down there in DC, but hope you enjoy the extended vacation. Try playing in your own zone just a little bit next year Craps. Go Habs Go.

Posted by: nativebrooklynite | April 30, 2010 10:03 AM
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Mike, ignore the haters who think you know nothing about hockey because you are black. I am black and have watched the NHL since 1965 and I am certain that I have forgotten more hockey than the Capital fans collectively will ever know. Nice regular season team you have built down there in DC, but hope you enjoy the extended vacation. Try playing in your own zone just a little bit next year Craps. Go Habs Go.

Posted by: nativebrooklynite | April 30, 2010 10:02 AM
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"A future Hall of Famer smushed my face."

Wilbon sounds pretty gay there.

Posted by: bal503 | April 23, 2010 10:38 PM
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About 18 years ago I was out in Los Angeles. I was making out w/ this blonde chick and O.J. Simpson burst through the front door, started yelling at the chick, I think her name was Nikki or Nicole or something. He told me I had 45 seconds to get out of the house or he'd cut off my head. Greatest thrill of my life.

Posted by: randysbailin | April 23, 2010 7:59 PM
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Wilbon has it right in every direction.

First, any kid hockey fan is going to be insanely excited by any attention from an NHL superstar, and anyone who tries to turn it into something else is acting like an over-protective parent, or just trying to create some controversy to distract from the fact that the series is turning into a yawner.

Second, Ovie is a guy on the edge: he only has one speed and one style, he'd just as soon hit someone as take a shot on goal, and he doesn't know about "ease up a little." On top of amazing skill (which others have had), this is what makes him great. We'll see if it ends up giving him a career where he ends up worn out early.

Posted by: rick5 | April 23, 2010 7:11 PM
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I spend the bulk of my free time mocking Wilbon on the comments page. I admit it. I have nothing better to do and I love doing it. I am a loser.

I poke Wilbon about his PTI fame, about how he and his PTI co-host are just waiting for Hollywood to call, and how WaPo is just a temporary career move until the Trib or Sun-Times makes a handsome offer (assuming these stalwarts don't (re)seek bankrupcty protection under the code).

But this article is decent. A good point is made, and I'm glad Wilbon made it.

I also want to send a shout out in favor of all comments correctly noting that the French Canadians are merely channeling their French sensibilities when they fear the worst for this delicate boy who shattered like glass upon falling victim to a snow shower. Viva la resistance!!

Peace and love to all!!

Posted by: ktp70 | April 23, 2010 4:39 PM
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If you people dislike Wilbon so much, why read his column and spit fire at everything he says? Seems like a waste of energy to me.

Go Caps!

Posted by: sammyliz01 | April 23, 2010 4:29 PM
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So many hockey experts out there now. I have seen so many posters up in arms about the credentials of the authors of these articles. There is much more to the sport than the rules. Many stories surround the 60 mins on the ice. Michael is not writing a thesis on the physics of hockey. jeez
It's important to remember that there is always someone out there that knows more than you. Would you want them to tell you you shouldn't talk about hockey?

Posted by: dj11 | April 23, 2010 4:13 PM
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So Wilbon was an obnoxious SoB when he was 13, what a surpise.

Posted by: googleguy | April 23, 2010 4:01 PM
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what will it take to get Wilbon to stop every writing about hockey? This guy is intolerable, it's like Lavaar Arrington talking about the Caps. Please, stop embarrassing yourself. You have ZERO qualifications for writing anything, ever about hockey. Stop pretending to be a Blackhawks fan because you never were. You're a poser and a blowhard at that. stick to something you know, like the NBA and spare the rest of us that garbage you call writing.

Posted by: kennybanya | April 23, 2010 12:54 PM
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Whats worse is you thinking you are qualified to tell someone who writes about sports for a living that they are not qualified. If he isnt qualified then where does the put you? Stick to changing car tires or whatever you do when you are not posting stupid blogs.

Posted by: ged0386 | April 23, 2010 3:50 PM
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Evidently no one here goes to many Caps games (not very surprising given the blog's author). OV does the same ritual before EVERY game (rapid skate out, turn around, race to bench, sharp spraying stop, seat in same seat on end of bench. He would have done exactly the same, kid or no kid, Habs (that's "Canadians" for non-hockey fans) jersey or Caps jersey. He probably barely noticed the kid there as he had something else on his mind (uh, that would be the game). So it was not a special gesture, one way or another.

Posted by: jhershb | April 23, 2010 3:34 PM
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I ran on a field and picked up ball and Mike Curtis flattened me. It was great.

Posted by: TheDubb | April 23, 2010 3:30 PM
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This is a non-story.

When I was in high school, I was visiting a friend at Indiana University. I looked up and saw Bobby Knight coming down the hall, and said "Hi, Bobby" (eerily similar to the comment that made him go off on that other kid before he got canned).

Without breaking stride, he made it clear (and very colorfully clear) that he had no idea who I was, and didn't care in the slightest who I am. He was rude, irreverent and profane.

I thought it was about the coolest thing that ever had happened to me. My family thought I was completely insane when I relayed hte story to them, but I absolutely loved it, and became a Knight fan for life.

Posted by: DC2Dallas | April 23, 2010 3:20 PM
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Another predictable post from WesternHockeyFan

Posted by: 74umgrad1 | April 23, 2010 2:55 PM
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What did Fisk tell you on the Gondola ride????????

Posted by: abc1 | April 23, 2010 2:26 PM
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The kid should be grateful he wasn't blindesided into the boards, the usual tactic from a certain MVP candidate.

Posted by: WesternHockeyFan | April 23, 2010 2:22 PM
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Sounds like Ovie has got into their heads ... and quite easily, too. Are the Habs really this mentally weak?

Posted by: HughJassPhD | April 23, 2010 2:15 PM
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I am surprised by the amount of vitriol spewed here. Mr. Wilbon is not supporting nor saying what Alex Ovechkin did was right, but only pointing out that most kids (or fans in general) will love being engaged by an athlete/superstar from any league. This kid now has a great story to tell his friends for life. Mr. Wilbon is only pointing out that society has taken a small moment and made it the public outrage it should never be.

Posted by: SSS42 | April 23, 2010 1:37 PM
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Immediately after the French Canadian child realize he was attacked with fluffy snow he switched his flag with a white one.

Anyone notice that?! :-D

Posted by: Mike4169 | April 23, 2010 1:30 PM
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I am offended by the vitriol thrown about here towards Mike for his comments. He comments on the simple aspect of being engaged by a sports superstar as a kid. That engagement could be an autograph or a glove in the face/ice in the face and most kids will love that fact that it happened to THEM. He isn't defending what Alex Ovechkin did, but simply saying that the world is over reacting to the incident when most likely the kid is just enjoying the moment.

Posted by: SSS42 | April 23, 2010 1:27 PM
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To the idiot that questioned Wilbon about Hockey.

Wilbon is from Chicago and for as long as I remember he has been a big hockey fan. I am Hispanic, I like hockey, Wilbon is black he likes hockey...wow welcome to the 21st century Buck Rogers.

Posted by: khornbeak | April 23, 2010 1:26 PM
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Crosby yelled at me when we visited their practice last year at Keller, and some of the D-men flug ice shavings at us- it was great! I ahte Crosby, but I told all my friends about it. I would rather have athletes interact with fans, than be robots! People who are upset at this are either OV haters, or the most vanilla people in the world. The kid probably loved it!!

Posted by: scottiemac3 | April 23, 2010 1:20 PM
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This is nothing. The kid was hit with fluffy snow. BFD!!! I have to be honest though, if Crosby did that to a kid in Washington people on this post would be killing him.

Posted by: largetony86 | April 23, 2010 1:04 PM
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Don't understand the hostility directed towards Ovi or Wilbon. You gotta know the kid loves it. Let's hear from the kid! (Is everyone sure that wasn't a real Montreal player? They are such a bunch of tiny little fellas!)

Posted by: ehclement | April 23, 2010 12:58 PM
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what will it take to get Wilbon to stop every writing about hockey? This guy is intolerable, it's like Lavaar Arrington talking about the Caps. Please, stop embarrassing yourself. You have ZERO qualifications for writing anything, ever about hockey. Stop pretending to be a Blackhawks fan because you never were. You're a poser and a blowhard at that. stick to something you know, like the NBA and spare the rest of us that garbage you call writing.

Posted by: kennybanya | April 23, 2010 12:54 PM
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Unbelievable. Have we become so sensitive in this country where we can't even enjoy our sports??? It's sports people! I'm not even a hockey fan and I understand that was done out of fun! We're becoming a country full of 'wussies'. MAN UP!!!

Posted by: carterm1 | April 23, 2010 12:44 PM
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MCWOP if this were Philly we would throw up on him! COME ON

Posted by: Mike4169 | April 23, 2010 12:39 PM
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Snore

Posted by: astroland | April 23, 2010 12:37 PM
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Wow...such hatred towards Wilbon today. You may not agree with him but is he really worthy of such disrespect. I had to double check to make sure I wasn't reading a Philly or New York paper.

As far as the "incident" goes. You'll see it as you want to see it... bottom line... case closed. It's not like he cross checked the kid. It's just a little ice. Get over it.

Posted by: mcwop | April 23, 2010 12:29 PM
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Sorry, but this is much ado about nothing. It was at worst a thoughtless thing to do, but not out of malice. Ovechkin does a hard stop before going to the bench at the beginning of EVERY game. It's his pregame ritual, like Lebron and the baby powder. People want him strung up because he snowed a kid's shins? *sigh* Political correctness gone too far.

I'll be the first to admit that Ovechkin can come off as an arrogant jerk, but Wilbon correctly pointed out how true that is of a lot of athletes. That's no excuse for bad behavior, but this is no reason vilify Ovie. It's just people creating a stir when there is no stir to be created. Barry Melrose thought it was great.

Posted by: gophercrow | April 23, 2010 12:26 PM
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Hey Dual! Try to research a guy before you bash...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aC6ekv7U7FM

http://72.47.196.195/alexovechkin/foundation

"Determined to give back to the surrounding community, Alex established the ‘Alexander Ovechkin’s Crazy 8s’. Alex purchases eight tickets to every Capitals home game for donation to soldiers and their families as well as children from low-income and under served households. Since the program’s inception in 2006, Alex has provided over 900 soldiers and children the opportunity to see the Capitals play at the Verizon Center free of charge."

K Thanks for playing!

Posted by: Mike4169 | April 23, 2010 12:23 PM
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Dear lord. Unless this kid is inflicted by the same kind of ailment that caused the Wicked Witch of the West to melt in water, then I think he's just fine, thanks. When I was young, it was FUN to run under sprinklers, get covered in snow ... you know, kid things. I guess maybe Ovie should've handed him a PSP and maybe fed him a Lunchables.

What a wuss-ass world we live in.

Posted by: scrappledog | April 23, 2010 12:19 PM
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One time as a 16 year old kid at the old Capitals Center I got Mario Lemieux was so annoyed with me he gave me the "Pittsburgh salute"! I wont ever forget that!

Posted by: mharris3 | April 23, 2010 12:18 PM
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My God you people are Heartless I doubt very much"The KIDS"(posted by OOTEK)is bragging that ovechkin sprayed him with his bottle! Those kids(the Canadiens have a wonderful Charity set up,ask Theodore,he still owns a "box" here for sick kids!)are from Chidrens" hospitals.Mostly from Cancer wards.The Kid as (OOTEK put it) probably went back to the Montreal Childrens after the game) As I posted yesterday,Canadiens also give them a pat on the back and leave memorabelia after the game.Visiting teams,know that by know,and also leave some kind of memorabelia.Imagine if Oveckin had given him a tap on the back,and left him a stick instead? Oveckin used to be my fav player.Looked so innocent when he scored a goal.like it was his first.I m not a crosby fan,but at least he does stop for the kids ,and does leave them a stick.Gosh,even malkin does!My thought on Oveckin know is that he onlt cares about himself!That was classless!

Posted by: dualcitz | April 23, 2010 12:01 PM
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Ovi could volunteer at the local soup kitchen and still get trashed. Who cares what Montreal thinks? If they worried as much about the Ovi "incident" as winning games, they would be much better off.

Posted by: BT23 | April 23, 2010 11:46 AM
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By the way. That "future hall of famer" that smooshed his face could murder 6 family's and Wilbon would defend him! lol That's a LOCK!

Posted by: Mike4169 | April 23, 2010 11:44 AM
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OOTEK it figures someone that kisses Wilbon's butt would call someone a jackass for not having the same opinion as you.

Lyle the only crack being smoked around here is the crack you are smooching on Wilbon. How is the view in there? This guy bashes D.C. over and over again yet he takes our dollars. He shows favoritism to stars he meets. Which is a lot of fail when you have the job he has. But hey keep drooling over the poor reporting. W/E. Notice he couldn't help take his shot yet again. Like when talking about this story on PTI he felt the need to throw in how he thinks Crosby has done more. He has to take his bitter ignorant shots.

GO AWAY. Go work for a Chicago paper! You belong in that town.

Posted by: Mike4169 | April 23, 2010 11:38 AM
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Wow, surprised people jumped on you so quickly on this one, I agree with you, the kid should be thrilled...on the radio yesterday they were trying to discuss what would happen if Crosby did this to a little kid in a Caps uniform and my first thought was the kid would probably beat the snot out of him

Posted by: DCCapsfan19 | April 23, 2010 11:35 AM
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Seriously Wilbon? You're actually talking about this?

I mean I can understand that there isn't much to discuss about the Caps. After all, they've only taken two wins in one of the most hostile environments in the NHL and are one win away from facing the Flyers.

But nope, you instead talk about this.

I look forward to your next "Ovechkin needs a telescope to see Crosby" pieces.

Honestly if this is what we're going to get, how about you just worry about the Blackhawks?

Posted by: Liebercreep | April 23, 2010 11:29 AM
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mike4169 You got it right man. Wilbon is the biggest jock sniff in this town along with Wise, Reid, and Steinberg. They think somehow they are in tight with these athletes when in all actuality the players like ovie or Jordan or Tiger could give a rats ass about them. It's a joke.

Posted by: efdelaney | April 23, 2010 11:25 AM
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On PTI someone made the comment just send the kid a stick or a puck signed. Then the kid will really be thrilled.

Case closed.

Posted by: vaparrot | April 23, 2010 11:24 AM
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Enough Wilbon!!! you know nothing about hockey, just stick to writing about things you know or maybe go back to Chicago... Ovie hater.

Posted by: BOshag | April 23, 2010 11:22 AM
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More deep hockey insight from Wilbon. Thanks for your contribution, Mike. We're all wiser for having read this blurb (which you probably wrote between washing Tiger's car and going furniture shopping for McNabb's new pad).
At least he filled his quota of one hockey "article" per month, so we won't have to hear from this tool again for a few more weeks.

Posted by: crymeariver4 | April 23, 2010 11:16 AM
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That kid is still bragging to his buddies about Ovie spraying him. Spraying is not like spitting on someone's face. Come on - get over it. It's a fun thing to do and is not hurtful. He could have just ignored the kids and been a diva about it - but I bet he made that kid's day.

Posted by: MDL7 | April 23, 2010 11:15 AM
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mike4169- stop smoking crack first thing in the morning!

Posted by: lylewimbledon | April 23, 2010 11:10 AM
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That kid went to school the next day and bragged to all his friends that the greatest hockey player in the world sprayed him with ice. What a thrill for a young kid! People are trying to make it a big deal because Montreal is finished and embarrased in the playoffs and there is nothing else to report.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | April 23, 2010 11:08 AM
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Hey Mike-

Juust a word to let you know that not everyone who comments here is a jackass (Like the first commenter on here seems to be). I don't always agree with you, but I still love the work you do... and i really, really don't get why someone would come to your blog just to rip on you.

I thought the ice spray was pretty funny. Anf if I was that kid, I'd probably have the same reaction as you: "wow, Ovie just totally sprayed me! Awesome!"

Posted by: Ootek | April 23, 2010 11:06 AM
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The reason this is no big deal has nothing to do with an athlete engaging a fan. It has everything to do with this being his pregame ritual that typically doesn't have any fans standing in front of the bench. If Ovechkin wanted to spray the kid he would have turned the other direction and really gotten him good. My guess is that Ovechkin had his game face on and wasn't even considering who or what was there. The other reason this is no big deal is because it is no big deal.

Posted by: ouvan59 | April 23, 2010 11:02 AM
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"Not surprisingly, around here any observation or criticism of Ovechkin, no matter how mild or legit, is simply brushed aside by Capitals fans, as if Ovechkin is perfect."

Kinda like you defend Kobe when he rapes someone huh Wilbon? He can do no wrong and is perfect right? Or how about your boy Tiger who spits on his family?

Shut up about Caps fans while you defend every "star" criminal that says hi to you.

I cannot believe you of all people say anything about fans defending a star.

Why do you work here if you hate it here so much!?!? Jordon sucked in D.C. GET OVER IT. It's not our fault he is an arrogant jerk.

Posted by: Mike4169 | April 23, 2010 11:00 AM
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