BALLSTON, Va. - Wednesday, Washington Capitals associate goaltender coach and former Cap Olaf Kolzig shared his thoughts on his former teammate, Alex Ovechkin. According to Kolzig, Ovechkin needs to "not get wrapped up too much with the rock star status that comes with being Alex Ovechkin" and find the exuberance that he possessed at the beginning of his career.
Thursday, General Manager George McPhee was asked for his take on Kolzig's comments and said that he had no issue with them.
"I don't 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 we've ever seen. It's hard for anybody to match his level. He holds everybody to that standard. But you look at a player like Ovechkin, he wouldn't be who he is if he didn't work hard."
At the beginning of his career, Ovechkin's talent carried him to four 50-goal seasons in his first five years along with two Hart Trophies (MVP), two Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophies (most goals) and one Art Ross Trophy (most points). Since the start of last season, however, Ovechkin has only 56 combined goals and is on his pace for his second career-worst season in as many years.
According to McPhee, Ovechkin needs to be pushed, but that is something that all great players have to go through.
"Like all the great ones, whether it's a [Mario] Lemieux or a [Sergei] Fedorov or Corey Perry or an Ovechkin, there are nights when you may not be giving it everything, but your skill makes a difference and you help your club win a game," McPhee said.
"What we all learn is they have to be reminded once in a while. If you're working hard all the time, that's when you become unstoppable," he continued. "And you have to push them from time to time. A lot of the great ones have done that and Ovie does it from time to time, too. Sometimes, the game comes easy to you and you have to remind them we're not going to win consistently doing that. If we push you and you're working hard every night, that's when you're a handful."