In an attempt to end his verbal battle with Don Cherry, the always playful Alex Ovechkin donned a Coach's Corner T-shirt and shorts featuring the Hockey Night in Canada logo prior to a March 24 game at Toronto.
The word "Respect" was printed on the back of the shirt, perhaps suggesting the Washington Capitals star forward was ready to bury the hatchet with the popular commentator.
"He can say whatever he wants," Ovechkin told reporters at the time. "I think fans love when something is going on around the league. His TV show is very popular, I think, and I like it."
Cherry ripped Ovechkin for his emotional goal celebrations during the Feb. 28 Coach's Corner segment, and again on March 21 after the player made news by marking his 50th goal of the NHL season with a "hot stick" routine that appeared staged.
2009-10 NHL predictions (the lighter side)
|Sept. 23||This season's quote machine|
|Sept. 24||Best-dressed NHL player|
|Sept. 25||NHL player who should retire|
|TODAY||Who will Alex Ovechkin target in a war of words?|
|Sept. 29||Next recycled coach to return to an NHL bench|
"You should be a role model, you don't need to do this," Cherry said. "You're above stuff like that. You're the best hockey player playing today. Have a little class and do it right."
Ovechkin also had words, off and on the ice, with Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby late last season.
Sid the Kid chimed in about Ovechkin's wild style of celebrating goals, saying: "Some people like it, some people don't. Personally, I don't like it."
And Ovechkin's assessment of Crosby? "He is a good player, but he talks too much."
Who will Alex the Great target in a war of words this season?
CBCSports.ca asked retired NHL player Jeremy Roenick, HNIC's Scott Oake, NHL player agent Kent Hughes and Canadian women's hockey team player Jennifer Botterill to weigh in on the topic as part of its continuing five-part series of predictions on the lighter side of the game.
Roenick: Now that [Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni] Malkin has won a Stanley Cup, I think he's going to go after him. I think he's a little jealous that Malkin has a Stanley Cup and he doesn't because I think he has to be known as the best player, not just the best Russian player.
They might be friends and all, but when it comes to playing and competitiveness, I think he [Ovechkin] wants to be the best. He acts like he wants to be the best [and] he plays like he wants to be the best.
Oake: That's a difficult question. Maybe [American Rapper] Kanye West for interrupting Taylor Swift [at the recent MTV Video Awards].
I think Ovechkin can target anyone because he's got the skill to back it up and the toughness. I think that's one of the things that make him such a compelling player.
'I think he's a little jealous that [Evgeni] Malkin has a Stanley Cup and he doesn't.'— Retired NHLer Jeremy Roenick on a potential Ovechkin target
His spat with Don [Cherry] last year lasted about a month and I thought it was fun, for one thing. It also produced some serious debate on how far celebrations should go in hockey.
When you're as big a star as Ovechkin, you're always going to be judged. You don't have to pick your targets because they find you. I don't think he specifically sets out to target anyone. Certainly when he plays against Sidney Crosby, he wants to be seen as the best, as Crosby does.
Hughes: He's certainly gone after Malkin physically in certain games, but I don't know what their relationship is like. Are they friends or not? I can't think of him targeting anyone specifically. My guess is that the rivalry grows between Ovechkin and Crosby.
And if somebody's going to be on the receiving end, it's probably going to be Crosby because in addition to them being two of the great players in the game, they're both on teams that should continue to be at the very top [of the standings].
Botterill: It might be kind of entertaining if it were [New York Rangers forward Sean] Avery, wouldn't it?