Ovechkin disappointed by suspension
In a brief interview with reporters in South Florida, the two-time MVP first said he was sorry that the hit resulted in an injury for Campbell and added that he was "disappointed" it resulted in a two-game suspension. He answered just three questions before a Capitals team official ended the session.
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"I think it was like the heat of the hit," Ovechkin said when asked if he was surprised by the league's decision. "I think it was just a little push."
Campbell is done for the regular season. He is expected to miss up to two months with a broken collar bone and a fractured rib, but Blackhawks team doctor Michael Terry said Tuesday that Campbell probably will avoid surgery and is expected to make a full recovery.
In a statement posted on the team's Web site, Ovechkin said he would continue to "play hard, play with passion and play with respect for my teammates, opponents and fans" when he returned from the suspension.
"I didn't mean to make someone injured," Ovechkin told reporters. "But you know, it's a hockey game."
Ovechkin drove Campbell into the boards from behind in the first period Sunday and received a major penalty and a game misconduct. The Blackhawks defenseman stayed down for several minutes before he was able to leave the ice with a trainer. He did not return to the game.
Tuesday was the first day the Blackhawks could react publicly to the Ovechkin's suspension. No one was more vocal about it than winger and tough guy Adam Burish.
Burish would have liked to have had a chance to respond to Ovechkin, personally, but could not because he was kicked out of the game.
"Either you have to answer the bell or you get suspended," Burish said in reference to either the players handling retribution or the league.
There weren't any Hawks that would call Ovechkin a dirty player, but that doesn't mean they don't think he isn't crossing a line.
"I don't think he's dirty," Burish said. "I don't think he goes out there thinking he's going to hurt someone tonight. He's just reckless ... but you have to pay the consequences [for it]."
The injuries mean the 30-year-old Campbell's streak of consecutive regular-season games, which reached 388 on Sunday, is over. Chicago's regular season ends April 11, and Campbell could return by mid-May if the Blackhawks are still in the playoffs.
Campbell is a three-time All-Star who has seven goals and 31 assists this season.
"I just know there was no malice intended," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He didn't go to hurt him. He went to hit him, and he hit him, but the hit didn't cause the damage. The boards caused the damage."
Burish didn't agree with that assessment.
"It's a stupid comment," Burish said. "I know he didn't smoke him from behind. But when a guy is turning and he's not in the play anymore, as a hockey player you know that you're a little bit vulnerable in that position. And Ovechkin knows it ... You don't need to give a guy a big shot to knock him down in that situation."
"Coaches stick up for their star players and he should stick up for his star player but I think he's out of line saying that."
Ovechkin missed Tuesday's contest against the Florida Panthers and will also miss Thursday's game at Carolina. It is the fourth time this season that Ovechkin will miss a game against the Panthers. An upper-body injury sidelined Ovechkin for a home-and-home series in November and he was suspended when the Capitals faced Florida on Dec. 3. The Panthers still lost all three games.
"It's always tough to lose your best player," Boudreau said. "But we're a very good team. He is the MVP and all of those things ... and we can't replace him, but we've still got three good offensive lines, because we're an offensive team, and we're playing well. I'm hoping the guys will pick it up for him again."
Information from ESPNChicago.com's Jesse Rogers and The Associated Press contributed to this report.