Typically when one thinks of the best hockey players in the world, the concept of big hits doesn’t usually come into play.  I don’t believe I ever saw Wayne Gretzky check someone.  Mario Lemieux?  Once in a while.  Pavel Bure?  Not unless he was going to end up getting hurt on the play.  Sidney Crosby?  Sometimes, but it’s not really a big aspect of his game.

Alexander Ovechkin is the best player in the world today, and the Washington Capitals will have to play without him for a couple games.

This past Sunday on the NHL showcase on NBC, Ovechkin sent Blackhawks defensemen Brian Campbell into the boards from more than three feet away – earning the Boarding penalty which was levied against him, injuring Campbell in the process.

It was learned yesterday that Ovechkin would serve a two game suspension for the hit.

This isn’t the first time Ovechkin has been called a dirty player.  He has been known to get bad penalties for Boarding in the past.

Not only is Boarding an aspect of Ovi’s game that he needs to change, but in the past he had a tendency to cause knee-to-knee hits, which are potentially career ending – not only for the recipient, but also for Ovechkin.

Part of the reason Ovechkin is so beloved is because he’s a powerful and passionate player.  During the Olympics, he made my wife and I stand up and cheer during Russia vs Czech Republic when he FLATTENED former Washington Capital Jaromir Jagr.

I hope Ovechkin continues with the big hits, but I also hope he plays smarter.  No more Boarding, no more knee-to-knee.  Just good clean hockey with huge hits.  If he doesn’t, I fear someone will step up and attempt to put Ovi on the shelf, which would be really unfortunate for not only the Washington Capitals, but for NHL fans around the world.

Here’s a video of some of Ovechkin’s big hits.