Comparing Ovechkin to Yzerman? Not a Chance

Ken Campbell wrote an interesting yet laughable article for The Hockey News about Washington Capitals' star Alexander Ovechkin's 'evolving superstar status' in which he compares Ovie to Red Wings legend Steve Yzerman.

Here is an excerpt from Campbell's article:

When Steve Yzerman reached the crossroad of his career, he had the option of going one of two ways. He could either continue as a one-way offensive dynamo or he could reinvent himself as a two-way player.
Had he taken the first option, there’s a good chance Yzerman would have never won a single Stanley Cup. Either he would have been dealt from the Detroit Red Wings or he wouldn’t have been able to provide them with the type of play they needed for him to lead them to three championships. Because he chose the latter, not only was he an integral part of three championship teams, but he also cemented his Hall of Fame credentials and his status as one of the greatest leaders and players of all-time.
So it’s rather curious, isn’t it, that now that Alex Ovechkin is being asked to do some of the same things and he’s complying, his career is going down the sinkhole before his 27th birthday? The same things for which Yzerman was lionized Ovechkin is being fed to the lions. This wouldn’t have anything to do with a bias against Russians would it? Didn’t think so.
Let's stop there, because comparing a player like Ovechkin to that of Steve Yzerman is ludicrous. What Campbell does say correctly is that Ovechkin has been asked to change his game in the same way Yzerman had. Yzerman wasn't a streaky scorer like Ovechkin has been lately, scoring over 100 points almost every season. Playoff failures led Yzerman's name to be brought up in trade talks with the Islanders and Senators. Once Scotty Bowman stepped in, he asked Yzerman to become a defensive minded forward.
Yzerman figures Bowman has around ten Stanley Cups, so his way probably works. He buys into the system and at the end of his career he has three Stanley Cup rings.
Capitals coach Dale Hunter asked Ovechkin to do the same, but we can't compare the two as players, not one bit. Ovechkin may have been blocking some shots and hanging around defensively, but all you have to do was take a peek at Game 7 in New York. Ovechkin was a corpse, skating around and doing almost nothing defensively or offensively. Steve Yzerman strived in those situations, where the team was a goal down in a critical game, and he would come up with a great penalty kill or shot block. When your captain is throwing himself in front of 100 mile an hour slapshots, it's very easy for a coach to go to any other player on the team and say, "Why aren't you doing that?"
It seems that Ovechkin still doesn't really get the concept, only buying in when he wants to. He loves to score, but he equates scoring with winning. Yzerman equated playing defence with winning. And that's the difference.
So, in conclusion, Campbell does hit a few points about how Ovechkin has been asked to play defensively in order to win, but that project is in its infancy. Leave it alone for a few years and see how it goes, but I guarantee he's still nowhere close to being at the level that Steve Yzerman was.

Kyle Busch


Chuck Gaston Jr's picture

What Ken is trying to do here is compare situational irony's and that just doesn't equate to the overall aspect of a players career. Alex Ovechkin and Steve Yzerman are so different it just isn't right to compare them. It really isn't right to compare them at all, except for some miniscule aspects of their games. Your trying to compare one of the greatest leaders and players in NHL history to one of the most prolific goal scorers in the modern NHL. The two don't just add up.
Frankly, if they were to compare anyone to Yzerman, it could be Crosby, only because of similar style and size, but that would be irresponsible as well considering what Yzerman accomplished in his career and that Crosby and Ovechkin are only about a third of their way through their careers.

Brad Butland's picture

Totally agreed, this is like apples and oranges. I've never looked at Ovechkin and seen a shred of Yzerman in him. I am a bit fond of Ovie, but he's no Stevie Y, nor will he ever be. He's just not that type of player.