Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz believes Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin knew what he was doing when he injured Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell on March 14, and Wirtz believes Ovechkin should have been suspended for the rest of the season.
Ovechkin was suspended two games for the hit, which resulted in a fractured clavicle and rib. Campbell is expected to miss seven to eight weeks.
During a taping of an upcoming Crain's Business of Sports video, Wirtz said the suspension should last as long as the injured player is sidelined.
"If any one of our great players put Ovechkin out for the season, he should be out for the season, too," Wirtz told Crain's. "Make it commensurate.
"If you're really going to hurt a player, knee to knee, make a head hit, and you're out for the season, then let them suspend that player for the rest of the season. I'll tell you, you wouldn't see those knee-to-knee and head hits anymore."
Campbell was several feet from the end boards, and after moving the puck, he was pushed from behind by Ovechkin. Campbell crashed shoulder-first into the broads. Ovechkin was assessed a major penalty and a game misconduct. He was penalized as a repeat offender, having been suspended earlier in the season.
"[Ovechkin] doesn't need to do that," Wirtz told Crain's. "It's an angry outburst, for whatever reason, that he has to deal with. I just think he's too great a player, and he doesn't need to do that.
"The puck wasn't even near him, and he shoved [Campbell]. He could have skated the other way. It wasn't by accident. He knew exactly what he was doing."
Ovechkin apologized for the incident and said he didn't mean to injure Campbell.
"The last thing you want to see is your great players in the press box or in the locker room," Wirtz said Tuesday on "The Afternoon Saloon" on ESPN 1000. "I was looking forward to watching Ovechkin, and I feel like I was cheated as a fan.
"What you hate to see is repeated offenses ... and this is not the first time he's rode that pony. It's unnecessary, he's too great of a player."
The Blackhawks lost defenseman Brent Seabrook last Wednesday to a hit by Anaheim Ducks defenseman James Wisniewski, who was suspended eight games. Seabrook is expected to play Tuesday night after missing two games.
"Certainly [the NHL] is talking about [how to prevent dangerous hits], and seeing what they could do before the playoffs," Wirtz said on ESPN 1000. "No one wants to see anyone get hurt.
"The other sports have cracked down on it, and it's times for the NHL to do it. Everyone has to work together. The players have to take responsibility for their own behavior, and the owners have to work with the league and see what they can do, because it just can't go on anymore."
Wirtz doesn't blame the league for suspending Ovechkin just two games, but he said if players knew they would sit out as long as the injured player is sidelined, that could serve as a deterrent.
"If [Wisniewski] came in from the blue line [to make the hit] and thought ... he could be out for the rest of the year .. you're going to think twice before you come in from the blue line and do something like that," Wirtz said.