The total package.
This is one of those clichéd phrases we hear throughout the hockey world, from mites all the way on up to the NHL. General managers, coaches and players will tell anybody who asks; “That guy, oh well he has the total package.”
OK, but have you ever wondered what makes someone “the total package?”
If the ingredients include ridiculous speed, amazing stickhandling, leadership, an uncanny competitive drive, a nasty wrist shot, blistering slap shot, accuracy with both, unmatched energy, mountains of heart, a mean streak, one-on-one ability, and a willingness to pay any price for a goal, then we've got your answer.
Ladies and gentlemen, Washington Capitals left wing Alexander Ovechkin.
“He's a rare guy,” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau offered.
Actually, he's the total package, and to prove it, NHL.com conducted an informal poll during All-Star Weekend of 11 players and one coach. We asked each of our 12 selections; “What do you think is Ovechkin's best attribute?”
From this poll, we got 12 different responses, although just about everybody said they couldn't limit it to just one attribute and some downright refused to do it.
“I would start with his speed and add 100 different other things that are great,” San Jose center Joe Thornton said, “but I'd definitely start with his speed.”
“He's got tremendous speed, but he can stickhandle with full speed, too. He can make moves with that speed,” offered Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom. “It's tough to sum it up with one word because he's so good at a lot of different things.”
Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen mentioned speed, too, but he wasn't shy in talking about Ovechkin's shot either.
“If I have to do a scouting report on him, I'd say watch his speed, and if you give him an inch to shoot the puck he will and it's always a good shot,” he said. “Somebody already asked me about a sniper, and he's a sniper.”
No matter if it's from the point, the circle, the slot, or even from behind the net.
“Recently, every time I see him score it's from the blue line with a one-timer. He's got a great shot,” Phoenix defenseman Ed Jovanovski said. “He beats goalies all the time with it. It's just a great shot.”
Don't discount that wrister either, said Tampa Bay winger Martin St. Louis
“It's his quick shot,” St. Louis said. “His wrister is not on his blade for a long time. Once he's in position it's on net, and it surprises defenders and goalies. 'Ovie' will skate down the ice, go through two guys, and when he's in shooting position, bam. It's gone. It's off his stick.”
And according to Nashville captain Jason Arnott, it's always on net.
“It seems like every time he shoots whether it goes in or not, his shot is very accurate and hard,” Arnott said. “He can shoot it from everywhere.”
Arnott, though, wasn't done with his evaluation.
He brought up the one aspect that seems more noticeable now than ever.
“With his talent and the way he can score, he's still a very, very physical player and I think that helps him a lot,” he said. “Guys know that he cannot only score, but he's going to run you over if he can.
“He's got so many attributes that it's hard to narrow down one.”
Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara did, and his is new to Ovechkin's resumé.
“Especially this year he has really taken on a role of being a leader,” Chara said. “Everybody knows he's a good player, but now he's really stepping up as a leader.”
One who plays with incredible desire/heart, offered Pittsburgh defenseman Sergei Gonchar and Columbus winger Rick Nash.
“He's got a lot of heart,” said Nash.
“His desire with the way he wants to score goals and compete and battle for the puck, that's the best way to describe him,” Gonchar said.
His battle level only intensifies when he's staring down a goal.
“Ovechkin right now has this knack of beating people one-on-one,” Atlanta coach/GM Don Waddell said. “He has this willingness to pay a price to score a goal.”
He does a lot of the little things that make players successful who don't have the skill, but he has the skill that goes along with it. - Brian Campbell
And he does it with unbelievable energy, almost as if he's been shot out of a cannon, said Buffalo Sabres defenseman Brian Campbell.
“I think for him it's just the energy that he brings to every shift and every game,” Campbell said. “He does a lot of the little things that make players successful who don't have the skill, but he has the skill that goes along with it.”
Now combine his energy with his brilliant competitive drive.
It's amazing, Rangers center Scott Gomez said.
“You can just tell, he's a great competitor, a superstar and that's great for the League,” Gomez said. “He competes every night, and I think that's the biggest compliment you can give him.”
Actually, it isn't.
We left that one up to his coach.
“Generations come and go and you don't have the total package, but he's the total package,” Boudreau said. “He's the power forward with the desire to be the best every time he steps on the ice. He accepts all challenges and goes at them vigorously.
“It doesn't take long to become a fan of his.”
Contact Dan Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org