Alex Ovechkin’s unsurprising COVID-19 mishap only hurts him

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Hands, please, if you’re surprised that Alex Ovechkin was among the perps who violated the NHL’s — the NHL’s and NHLPA’s, by the way — COVID-19 protocols.

Didn’t think so.

We know it is not ideal. We know that restrictions imposed in our daily lives don’t always make sense. But we also know that if Ovechkin and his Capitals teammates Evgeny Kuznetsov, Ilya Samsonov and Dmitry Orlov wanted to watch television while bivouacked at the team’s hotel in Pittsburgh, they could have done so in a large ballroom set aside for team recreational activities.

But no.

So, in the wake of reports that Samsonov has tested positive, Ovechkin will be out for four games per NHL regulations. Add those to the 26 cut off the schedule this season and 13 last season, and that’s more than a half-season lost to the chase of Wayne Gretzky’s NHL career goal-scoring record. Don’t forget the couple of matches he missed while suspended for skipping out on a pair of All-Star Games.

As it stands now: Gretzky 894, Ovechkin 707.

Of course, there were also the 34 games lost to the 2012-13 lockout plus the full would-be 2004-05 rookie season lost to the lockout cancelation. Ovechkin scored 50 when he made his 2005-06 debut, so he obviously have scored a bunch a year earlier.

But probably far fewer than 50 if the league was operating under see-no-evil edict under which league referees operated prior to the adoption of the hard cap. Turning a blind eye to obstruction and interference was the mechanism by which the NHL attempted to level the ice surface and strike down the advantage of powerful big market teams before the cap turned that trick.

No team ever was a greater beneficiary of that philosophy than the 1995-96 Panthers, who were pretty much allowed to bring lassos onto the ice to rope, bind and brand the Flyers and Penguins in the second and third rounds of the playoffs that year en route to being swept in the Cup final by the Avalanche.

Of course, the Puddy Tats have not won a single playoff series since then, and as Doug MacLean has been long departed from South Beach, can’t even put too much of the blame on him. Come to think of it, it’s been a while since Slap Shots has been able to point the metaphorical finger at MacLean for anything.

Jaromir Jagr, still competing for Kladno in the Czech2 League 22 days shy of his 48th birthday, stands at a career 766 NHL goals. He, too, was victimized by the 2005-06 and 2012-13 lockouts. But No. 68 also lost 34 games to the 1994-95 lockout at just about the peak of his powers. So how many additional goals for Jagr?

Surely more than enough to have boosted him into second place all time, ahead of Gordie Howe’s 801.

The league has what appears to be a two-week buffer following the tentatively scheduled May 8 end of the regular season to accommodate postponements.

According to deputy commissioner Bill Daly via an email exchange, the NHL has not yet begun to discuss — or even consider — contingencies if all teams are unable to complete the 56-game schedule.

That, I don’t understand. Seems simple enough to declare immediately that team standings will be determined by winning percentage rather than points if everyone isn’t able complete the schedule. Why wait?

In fact, the NHL could even enlist a corporation to sponsor the percentage column of the standings.

The league can thank me in the morning.

Neil Smith will be making a return to the Island, Slap Shots has learned. The club’s one-time GM (if you blinked, you might have missed those 40 days and nights on Charles Wang’s Ark during the summer of 2005) will represent the Belmont arena’s naming rights partner UBS when the building opens in the early stages of 2021-22.

“I’m going to be a liaison for UBS,” Smith told Slap Shots by phone this week. “Some time ago I met the vice chairman and east coast chairman of UBS, they were big Rangers fans, and I got my Series 7 and 66 investment licenses. I’m certainly not a financial adviser, but there’s a relationship there.

“And then when UBS got the naming rights, this opportunity arose and I couldn’t be more excited about it. I’ve taken a tour of the arena, and it’s going to be fantastic. It’ll be great to be back in New York. I’ll be greeting customers and clients in the suite and be a liaison between UBS, the Islanders and the folks attending the games.

“I’m not a hockey guy, per se,” said the Rangers’ 1994 Cup-winning GM, “but I’m always going to be a hockey guy.”

Two marquee guys who asked out — Patrik Laine and Pierre-Luc Dubois, that is — were exchanged for one another and sent to places that are hardly destination sites. So we’ll see if either is in for a longtime marriage.

And maybe John Tortorella did everyone a favor by pressing the issue?

If the conversation between Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen and Rangers counterpart Jeff Gorton began on the Jackets’ end with the words, “K’Andre Miller,” that would have just about ended it, correct?

In recognition of Yegor Sharangovich, the top five Devils to wear No. 17: 1. Petr Sykora; 2. Ilya Kovalchuk; 3. Patrik Sundstrom; 4. Tom Chorske; 5. Mike Rupp. Honorable Mention: Paul Gagne; Mention: Darren Langdon.

And the top five representing the Rangers, Devils and Islanders: 1. Dean Prentice, Rangers; 2. Sykora, Devils; 3. Kovalchuk, Devils; 4. Dave Balon, Rangers; 5. Mike Rogers, Rangers. Honorable Mention: Jude Drouin, Islanders; Brandon Dubinsky, Rangers. Mention: Fedor Fedorov, Rangers.

Rogers — who recorded 103, 76, 61 and 64 points, respectively, in his four years on Broadway — is one of the most overlooked players to have pulled on the Blueshirt in the modern era, no?

Kirill Kaprizov, the most electrifying player and potentially the biggest star to play for the Wild since The Great Gabby, Marian Gaborik? Discuss.

Finally, there were anecdotal tales of the Caps behaving mischievously under the Toronto bubble before losing in the first round to the Islanders in August. ’Twas easy to believe then, easier to believe now.

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