Ovechkin should be wary of changing his style

Thursday, 12.03.2009 / 10:21 AM / NHL Network

By Brian Duff - NHL Network

Alex Ovechkin.

Chris Pronger.

Do you see where this is heading?

The most electrifying player in the game today, Ovechkin has drawn the ire of many for his recent play that has crossed the line and finally netted him a suspension. A suspension some say is long overdue.

The point of this exercise is not to sit back and review all of his borderline plays, probably a handful in the last calendar year alone, but rather, to think out loud as to whether it is likely that Ovechkin will/should change his game to appease a certain percentage of the hockey faithful.

Will he change his "reckless" style of play?

Doubtful considering he's already said as much. The fact of the matter is few, if any, can play the game at his level, and he knows full well that the minute he takes an ounce of pressure off the pedal, he'll be a different player.

Should he change his game?

Probably, if he expects to be playing at the end of his 13-year contract that runs through 2020-21.

But then again, what is it that has made Chris Pronger, at age 35, still one of the most sought after defensemen in the NHL? One who just signed a new seven-year contract.

Most likely the fact that he's the same miserable, ornery, ill-tempered, intense, hard-to-play-against defenseman that entered the League in 1993 and isn't far from reaching double-digits when it comes to number of suspensions.

If you're accusing Alex Ovechkin of not respecting the game, have you accused Pronger of it as well?

One can only imagine how many talk shows and columns over the years that have been filled with people demanding/hoping/expecting that Pronger change his game, or be suspended for much longer periods of time because of his repeat offender status.

Well, he hasn't and some players never will.

Pronger himself told the NHL Network in September during a taping of "Off the Ice" that he has absolutely no remorse for any of his past indiscretions, and did so with a somewhat mischievous grin. You know the ones we see from Ovechkin from time to time.

There are examples of elite players that changed their games, and adapted to new roles with great success over the length of their careers. Steve Yzerman and Bryan Trottier jump to mind immediately.

There are others who came and went as virtually the same players.

We'll see which category Ovechkin falls into. My money is on the latter.

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