WASHINGTON — ESPN NHL analyst Barry Melrose has seen enough.
After repeated second-round playoff exits, the latest arriving Wednesday with a heartbreaking 2-0 Game 7 loss to the Penguins, it’s time for the Washington Capitals to start seriously looking at trading Alex Ovechkin, Melrose says.
In nine playoff appearances, the Ovechkin era Capitals, who have never advanced to the third round, have made six second-round playoff exits, and were forced out by the Penguins on three of those occasions.
Capitals coach Barry Trotz declined to discuss Ovechkin at length after their latest exit.
Later that evening, Melrose was asked on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” if Trotz’s non-answer said everything.
“Well, he said everything to me,” Melrose said. “I think I got the feeling that it’s a topic that he doesn’t want to talk about right now, and it’s a topic maybe he can’t talk about right now. But the bottom line is Alex Ovechkin’s the best player on the team. He’s the highest paid player on the team. He’s the captain of the team. And Alex isn’t getting the job done.”
“I really think it’s time for the Washington Capitals to look at moving Alex Ovechkin,” he went on to say. “I think it’s to that point, and for his sake — not for the Washington Capitals’ sake — for his sake. Look at what we’re talking about now where everyone’s just ‘Alex Ovechkin let the team down. Alex Ovechkin let the team down.’
“He can’t win in Washington right now, and so, theoretically, it would be good for him to move onto another team with a fresh start also. This team, 10, 11 years, they don’t win. They don’t get to the third round. They’re always winning the Presidents’ Trophy. They’re always one of the best teams in the NHL. They’re always one of the most exciting teams in the NHL. They spend as much money as any other team in the NHL. But they never get to the third round. It’s time to do something, if you’re a Washington Capital fan.”
Melrose certainly isn’t the first pundit to propose trading Ovechkin — columnist John Feinstein made the same suggestion last week, saying the Caps should trade him if they lose the series to the Penguins — although, as a national hockey voice who’s spanned the entirety of Ovechkin’s career, it sure seems noteworthy that Melrose feels so strongly now.
Melrose chose more direct wording in another edition of SportsCenter, saying he really thinks “it’s time for the Washington Capitals to look at trading Alex Ovechkin.”
“If you look at the last 10 years,” he said, “what’s happened here? Well, they fired a general manager, they fired a bunch of coaches and nothing changes, they don’t get to the third round. And Alex gets blamed after every game, or every series, because they don’t get to the third round.”
“I really think it’s time for the Washington Capitals to look at trading Alex Ovechkin,” he said. “For his sake, too, so that he doesn’t have to go through this, and he needs a fresh start just like the team needs a fresh start. This team wins the Presidents’ Trophy.
“They do everything during the regular season. The goalie wins the Vezina [Trophy]. They got [Nicklas] Backstrom who leads the NHL in assists at times. You got Ovi who leads the NHL in goals, and yet they don’t get to the third round. So I really think it’s time for them to start looking at what they can get for Alex Ovechkin to make a deal.”