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Wirtz: Ovechkin should be out rest of the NHL season
Daily Herald Staff Report

The Capitals' Alex Ovechkin looks on after shoving the Blackhawks' Brian Campbell into the end boards, prematurely ending his season.


Associated Press file

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Published: 3/23/2010 12:08 PM

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When it comes to punishment, Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz believes you should get what you give, and that goes for Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin and every other player in the NHL.

Speaking at a luncheon for the City Club of Chicago on Monday and later during a Crain's Business of Sports interview, Wirtz had some strong words for the big hits a pair of his key defensemen have taken of late.

The first was the hit by Washington's Ovechkin, which drove Brian Campbell into the boards and resulted in a 2-game suspension, and the latest was Anaheim's James Wisniewski's crushing blow to the head of defenseman Brent Seabrook.

Wirtz said at the luncheon that if the punishment against Ovechkin was harsher, the hit on Seabrook might not have happened. "I am convinced if they had come down harder on Ovechkin, there's no way James Wisniewski would have gone from the blue line and hit Brent Seabrook," Wirtz said in a video report by NBC 5. "This has to stop.

"We took a player who's out for the rest of the season (Campbell); I think that player (Ovechkin) should be out for the rest of the season (too)."

In his interview with Crain's Business of Sports blogger Ed Sherman, Wirtz elaborated on his suggestion that the punishment be "commensurate".

"If any one of our great players put Ovechkin out for the season, he should be out for the season, too," Wirtz told Crain's. "Make it commensurate.

"If you're really going to hurt a player, knee to knee, make a head hit, and you're out for the season, then let them suspend that player for the rest of the season. I'll tell you, you wouldn't see those knee-to-knee and head hits anymore."

"(Ovechkin) doesn't need to do that," Wirtz told Crain's. "It's an angry outburst, for whatever reason, that he has to deal with. I just think he's too great a player, and he doesn't need to do that.

"If this isn't curtailed, and these head hits don't stop, we're going to have some real serious injuries,"