Daily Herald
You'd love Ovechkin on your team
By Mike Imrem | Daily Herald Columnist
Published: 3/16/2010 12:04 AM

Nothing is as polarizing as sports, and nothing in sports today is as polarizing as hockey's Alex Ovechkin.

Like, the Capitals' star has to be one of the biggest embarrassments to come out of Washington since John Edwards.

Seriously, what a dirty player Ovechkin is. What a disgrace his injurious hit on Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell was Sunday. What a pollutant the Capitals' scoring machine is to the NHL.

Man, what I wouldn't give to have him on my hockey team.

Who wouldn't want someone who isn't afraid to deposit pucks into the net and bodies into the boards? Hawks fans are lying if they say they wouldn't because of what happened to Campbell.

It's sort of the Dennis Rodman syndrome. If he's on the Pistons he's a curse. If he's on the Bulls he's a blessing.

If Milton Bradley and Ron Artest played well for the Cubs and the Bulls, respectively, they would have been darlings.

Sammy Sosa was appreciated when he was hitting 60 home runs annually, and his misdeeds were despised when his contributions waned.

All through sports, perspective depends on geography and productivity.

A steroids user like A-Rod is OK in the Bronx as long as he's their steroids user. A hockey pest like Adam Burish is OK in Chicago if he's the Hawks' hockey pest. A shameful incident waiting to happen like Bobby Knight is OK in Indiana until he isn't winning NCAA titles.

Sports fans are almost as wild-eyed as liberals and conservatives talking health care.

Ovechkin is unique. He's a mix of Rodman's badness and Michael Jordan's goodness. It doesn't get much better or entertaining than that.

Anyway, Ovechkin divided the hockey world when he steered Campbell into the boards, breaking the Hawk's ribs and clavicle.

The Capitals and others who revere Ovechkin wondered what the big deal was. The Hawks and those who revile Ovechkin thought it was a capital crime.

There's more if you cruise the World Wide Web.

Those who worship Sidney Crosby, vying with Ovechkin to be the NHL's best player, think Ovechkin should have been suspended until the Cubs win a World Series or the 22nd century, whichever comes first.

Those who think Crosby is a protected little whiner would hate for the NHL to be left to him for even as briefly as the two-game suspension Ovechkin received.

Then on opposite sides are law-and-order types who want hockey to become shuffleboard and rough-and-ready types who want hockey to remain a man's man's game.

That's sports. That's life. We see what we want on whatever subject we're glaring at.

Seriously, what other explanation could there be for such different interpretations by the Hawks and the Caps, the Crosbyites and the Ovechkineers, and the free skaters and fist fighters?

Personally, I couldn't care less whether or not Ovechkin was suspended unless he has to serve his time when and if the Hawks play the Capitals in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Of course, if the Hawks somehow could kidnap Ovechkin onto their roster before then -

Well, then I would hope he would be on the ice and thug up a couple of Capitals players.

mimrem@dailyherald.com