Former longtime Washington Capitals goaltender and fan favorite Olaf Kolzig Wednesday criticized current captain Alex Ovechkin’s work ethic and suggested he needed to get away from his "rock star status."
Ovechkin, who became the only player to be named to the NHL First All-Star Team in each of his first five seasons, is posting numbers well below his career averages.
A four-time 50-goal scorer, he is on pace for 34 goals and a career-low 65 points this season, according to NHL.com.
He also declined to skip the All-Star game while serving a three-game suspension.
"For Alex, it’s a work ethic [issue]. He just has to get back to being the way he was in his younger days and maybe not get wrapped up too much in the rock star status that comes with being Alex Ovechkin," said Kolzig, who now serves as Capitals associate goaltending coach.
"Alex [has gotten] away from playing hard, no-nonsense, honesty type of hockey — exuberant hockey — that he displayed the first three years that he was in the league," he added.
"I think that’s what endeared him to everybody … part of it is he’s probably feeling not as loved as he used to be. So he brings that on himself sometimes."
Kolzig, 41, Ovechkin’s teammate from 2005-08, also noted that opposing teams had now made adjustments to counter the 26-year-old Russian star.
"Teams have kind of got a handle on him, on maybe how to close the gap on him and not allow him those fantastic one-on-one goals that he’s used to scoring."