Alex Ovechkin played 13:36 in one playoff game, and though that was just one game and done for situational purposes, but it was an example of the superstar getting treated like any other Washington Capitals player by Dale Hunter.
“If we’re going back to this again, Alex’s minutes were determined by the scores and how the games were being played out,” right wing Troy Brouwer said. “It had nothing to do with benching him or anything like that; it’s just the style of coach that Dale wanted to play.”
Hunter’s style as Caps coach included a lot of shot-blocking and tight-checking. It didn’t include a lot of scoring.
“I know my role and I know exactly when I’m going to be on the ice and when I’m not going to be on the ice,” Ovechkin said. “There was bad feelings but nothing you can do; everybody try everybody do their best.”
Asked Monday if he liked to play that kind of hockey, Ovechkin didn’t exactly just nod.
“It doesn’t matter if I like it or not, because he’s my coach and I have to listen,” the captain said. “How he said, you have to be a plumber so I was a plumber.”
Ovechkin compared Hunter to an old coach from back in Russia. But the Caps will need a new coach after Hunter decided to go back to the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.
“I don’t know who’s going to be the coach next year but the leaders in this group have to be together and don’t look, you know. … I don’t know how to explain better, but sometimes you don’t have to be jealous,” he said. “I don’t want to say it was a jealous situation for us, but sometimes you just have to be a group together.”
Ovechkin was then asked to clarify his comment about jealousy.
“I don’t want to say persons, I don’t want to say situations, but sometimes you just know like, some guys, if you didn’t play well they just look at you like, you know,” he said. “Of course, you can see it, I can see it and somebody else gonna see it and it’s not the way we gonna win the game.”
One of the common themes in recent weeks was the Caps buying into Hunter’s philosophy. And they went through a lot to do that.
“Just simple things. We was a team in the playoffs. I don’t know if you guys see that or not but I was in locker room, I was on bus, I was on plane it was a team but you lose like a team and you win like a team,” Ovechkin said. “I don’t think you can say a person was make mistake and somebody was doing bad things during the year.”