There’s plenty of frustration evident in any hockey practice. Guys miss open nets, pucks don’t go where they’re supposed to go and competitive players get upset.
But on Thursday, with the Washington Capitals amid a three-game losing streak, Alex Ovechkin and Dennis Wideman had a seemingly heated exchange that included some slashes and a stare-down. That’s more than the average little disagreement, but it didn’t seem to bother Caps officials.
“Yeah, we don’t mind that at all,” general manager George McPhee said. “We’re not running a Sunday school. This is pro hockey. And it can get a little frisky out there from time to time.”
McPhee joked that it “would have been the rock star vs. the All-Star,” making reference to comments by Olie Kolzig that Ovechkin needs to get less wrapped up in his “rock star status.”
Coach Dale Hunter explained it as Ovechkin going to find Wideman for a power play drill. He was certainly not bothered by some high tensions.
“Everybody’s intensity is a lot higher and more on edge, I guess you want to call it,” Hunter said. “It always happens.”
Asked afterward about the little scrap, Ovechkin said he was just doing what Wideman asked.
“He said. ‘Play against me hard, like in a game’ so I just did,” the Caps’ star left wing said. “I think in practice you do whatever you have to do in the game. You try to battle in front of the net, make some shots, make some plays what you think is going to be at the game.”
Wideman was on his toes with an explanation of the event that drew a hearty round of laughs from assembled beat reporters.
“[Ovechkin] said he didn’t like the stick he was using, so he wanted to break it, so he broke it,” Wideman said. “And I said, ‘Are you happy?’ And he goes, ‘Yeah.’ And then he said, ‘You want to go out for dinner tonight?’ I was like, ‘All right,’ and that was that. Then I went back and continued the drill.”
Perhaps the ability to laugh off a situation like that is the best sign that the Caps aren’t too tight, but still intense, with a big-four game road trip upcoming.
“It happens from time to time,” McPhee said. “You see it ramp up a little bit at this time of year.”