Normally, I'm not a fan of the "he doesn't look like he's angry after a bad performance" form of analysis in sports. I know I don't like to mope after I've had a bad day, and I figure professional athletes, despite being paid much more than me, are the same way. I'm not going to get on anyone for trying to put a bad loss behind them like that.
But when your head coach is visibly upset at your postgame demeanor, I suppose it's a little different. Which takes us to the "saga" involving Alex Ovechkin, the captain of the Washington Capitals. The Capitals had just put forth an embarrassing effort against the lowly New Jersey Devils, falling 5-0 for the second time this week. It was a time for soul-searching, which was provided by defensemen John Erskine and goalie Braden Holtby.
For Ovechkin, though, it was a time to joke around and exchange pleasantries with opponent Ilya Kovalchuk. As Corey Masisak of CSN Washington reports, Bruce Boudreau didn't seem amused.
Masisak describes a scene where Ovechkin and Kovalchuk were chatting for an extended period of time after many of the players had gotten dressed and gone to the bus. Ovechkin was still in a T-shirt and shorts, and the two were" laughing and smiling with each other." Alexander Semin joined them briefly, but later left. In the meantime, a bunch of media members were waiting for Boudreau to give some postgame remarks.
Boudreau was angry, and the sight of Ovechkin, Kovalchuk and Semin made him angrier. As Masisak notes:
During the course of Boudreau's press conference, one of the three players let out a hearty laugh. Boudreau stuttered in the middle of an answer he was giving about the goaltending situation and had to recollect his thoughts. He was clearly steamed.
Semin eventually left for the bus but Ovechkin and Kovalchuk continued. At the end of Boudreau's press conference, he was asked if "that" bothered him - that being the interaction between the Russian players.
"I'll reserve my thoughts on that, if you don't mind," he said after a pause.
As a fan, I am having a lot of trouble getting worked up about this. If Ovechkin is to blame for anything here, it's that his conversation took place in clear view of his coach and the assembled media. When the symbolism of the act is more problematic than the act itself, I tend to give the player the benefit of the doubt. At the same time, Ovie's coach was very clearly pissed off, which is a whole another matter.
This whole episode really just goes to show two things we already know: the pressure on this team to win is immense, and Ovechkin is under the microscope like few others in professional sports.