SUNRISE, Fla. - Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin on Tuesday said he was disappointed by a two-game suspension issued for a hit on Chicago's Brian Campbell.
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.
"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 website, 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 defenceman stayed down for several minutes before he was able to leave the ice with a trainer. He did not return to the game.
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."
Ovechkin will miss Tuesday's contest against the Florida Panthers and 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."