Alex Ovechkin was suspended for two games without pay by the National Hockey League on Monday for his hit on Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell early in Sunday's game in Chicago that reportedly has ended Campbell's regular season.
NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell ruled that it was a "reckless" hit by Ovechkin, who received a five-minute boarding major and a game misconduct on the play that occurred 12:16 into the first period.
Ovechkin, now considered a repeat offender under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, forfeits $232,645.40 in salary, based on the number of games in the season (82), rather than the number of days (193). The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.
Campbell reportedly suffered a broken clavicle and broken ribs after Ovechkin shoved him into the end boards. He was scheduled to meet with a team doctor Monday afternoon for further evaluation.
Ovechkin, who has three game misconducts this season, will miss Tuesday's game at Florida and Thursday's at Carolina. He's eligible to return Saturday at Tampa Bay. Washington has already clinched the Southeast Division title and is 6-2 without Ovechkin this season.
"We have no problem with the way Alex tried to finish his check," Capitals Vice President and GM George McPhee said in a statement. "Unfortunately, an injury resulted. We are disappointed with the suspension but do not want to comment further."
Ovechkin was previously suspended for two games for his knee-on-knee hit on Carolina defenseman Tim Gleason in the Capitals' 3-2 win on Nov. 30. He received a kneeing major and a game misconduct on that play.
He was booted from a game Nov. 25 in Buffalo after receiving a five-minute boarding major and a game misconduct for his hit on Patrick Kaleta 3:38 into the third period. There was no supplemental discipline for that play.
"Alex pushed [Campbell]. He pushed him," Caps coach Bruce Boudreau told The Washington Post on Monday. "If he doesn't fall awkwardly into the boards, a) Is it a penalty? b) Are we having this discussion? ... Alex is so much stronger than everyone else. So we're penalizing him for being strong.
"I was so upset for him. I told [McPhee], 'I can't tell him.' I feel so bad for the guy. All he wants to do is play hockey and play the game hard."
The back-to-back Hart Trophy winner said after Sunday's game he didn't think his hit on Campbell was so bad and he wasn't sure if he would hear from the League.
"It was not a hard hit," he told reporters. "I just pushed him. It's just a moment in the game. I don't think it has to be five minutes or something like that. I just felt bad. That's it."
Ovechkin also added, "I respect everybody. We respect everybody here in the locker room and outside, but over there (on the ice) we play for our team. We make some hard hits and sometimes you get hurt. That's a hockey game."
Ovechkin, who has two inches and more than 40 pounds on Campbell, couldn't say if his size advantage played a part in Campbell's unfortunate fall. He crumpled into the boards after Ovechkin pushed him.
"I don't hit him hard. I just pushed him, but he fell bad," Ovechkin said. "You can see every shift it happens, little pushes, little battles."
Campbell's defense partner, Niklas Hjalmarsson, called for Ovechkin to be suspended.
"I thought it was a late hit," Hjalmarsson told the Chicago Tribune. "That's the kind of situation you really hurt yourself. I hope they take a good look at that hit and suspend him for a couple of games."
Washington right wing Mike Knuble told The Washington Post on Monday that he'd like to see Ovechkin harness some of his aggressiveness for his own good.
"He has the reputation that he plays hard," Knuble told the newspaper. "But things seem to be happening around him. You would like to see him being more careful because, No. 1, you don't want to see him hurt himself and, No. 1, so he doesn't miss games."
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