Alex Ovechkin has an interesting story. This is a player who has scored 588 goals in 12 seasons, who is a three-time Hart winner, 8 times all star, 6 time Maurice ¨Rocket¨ Richard Trophy recipient, and a 3 time Ted Lindsay winner but has never made an Eastern Conference Finals and whose name is synonymous with choking at this point.
This is an elite player who has failed to lead his team past the second round in 5 separate tries. Some of the greatest choke jobs in recent memory have come courtesy of this Ovechkin-led Washington Capitals team. However, this isn’t the same old doomed superstar who can not succeed because the rest of his team isn’t good enough storylines.
The Capitals have absolutely showered Ovi in easily the best supporting cast in all of hockey. Every year more and more talent are being tossed into the mix as all-star Nicklas Backstrom, Vezina winner Braden Holtby, former St.Louis Blues stars TJ Oshie and Kevin Shattenkirk just to name a few all have Ovi´s back.
Many people point to a lack of a great defenseman or depth as the reason Ovi can’t win a Cup. But it’s not that simple.
After back to back President’s Trophy winning seasons, Ovechkin still can not lead this generally elite Capitals squad out of the second round. One of the greatest players of this generation is forever tied to a tendency to not be able to win when it matters. In a superstar dominated world of sports, a team loaded with superstars can´t find a way to win.
Why can’t Alexander Ovechkin ever win a Cup?
To answer that question, we need to take a trip to another league, a whole different sport that has a player in the exact same position as our old bud Alexander Ovechkin. Fellow readers, I point you into the direction of a man named Russell Westbrook.
Both of these players are generational talent, strong leaders, and are capable of mind-blowing numbers. Though Brodie doesn’t have such a supporting cast, his story is similar.
Both these are players are game-dominating players. They have an ability to take control of a team and almost will them to victory. They are the team. When they are on any team, they need the puck/ball in their hands at all times to succeed.
Think about like this. These players are like a virus. The second one virus is introduced, their touch is everywhere within the system. The virus can succeed in taking over if nothing or little stands in their way. Put them in favorable conditions on a good day and nothing can stop them.
However, viruses can be killed off if they are not allowed to spread their reach to other cells and they are completely screwed if a lot of lesser yet strong viruses are introduced. If it clashes, they´re done.
This is the case with Alex Ovechkin and Russell Westbrook. A historically deadly virus who when it comes down to it need to be let loose and untampered with to succeed. So surround them with talent. Surround them with All-stars and Hall of Famers. It will not work. They can not succeed when the talent levels around them are also dominant viruses.
The Capitals will never win a Cup not because they don’t have the talent, they will never win because they don’t have the right talent.
Though not as dominant, players like Niklas Backstrom and TJ Oshie simply get in Ovis way. He is not allowed to carry the team by himself because he has an elite support system. And as a puck dominant goal scorer, he needs players to set him and get out of his way.
The Caps need to get players like Nashville’s Ryan Johansen or Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux. These are elite passers who won´t interfere with Ovi´s domination, who will set him up to dominate even more.
Ovi needs a support system to set him up, not help him win games. He can do that by himself when he is let loose. But if someone wants to help him win, the Caps fail as a whole because Ovi can´t succeed that way.
But then what? The Caps have burned through his career and time is running out in our nation’s capital to win. They don’t have time for a rebuild to enjoy Ovechkin´s prime post-rebuild but clearly, something has to change. Stripping down, trading and signing these types of players to surround Ovi is destined to fail. There is just not enough time for that roster to gel and in the end, work. That drastic of a change simply won’t be as smooth as the Capitals need it to be.
Unfortunately, all the Caps can do now is learn. Time has simply run out on the Ovechkin era to surround him with a whole new team. Once they surround him with the support he needs, they would have missed his prime. The Washington Capitals will never win a Stanley Cup in this decade and maybe not even next decade. The Capitals threw an elite team with leadership, talent and great coaching that would and should win a Stanley Cup.
But the reason they could never do it because Alex Ovechkin is a special type of player who can´t succeed with his team under normal circumstances. Theses kinds of players, Russell Westbrook and Saints running back Adrian Peterson just to name a couple, are players that need a support system to revolve around them. They need players to set them up in the best positions and get out of their way.
The level of domination and play style of these types of players shows winning with them is impossible under normal circumstances. All the MVPs and All-Star berths can only take the team so far, but when it comes down to it, the type of players matter.