Turns out, Alex Ovechkin got hurt during the game, in what was almost a scary situation. Kris Letang of the Penguins fell, and almost cut Ovechkin in the netherregoins. Ovechkin ended up begin OK, but didn't return to a game that would end in overtime, 4-3, in favor of the Penguins.
Said Caps coach Bruce Boudreau after the game, "it took the doctor so long to get down here (the bench), we couldn't get him back on the ice."
Almost on cue, the internet conspiracy theorists were out in droves. You know the type. The same kind of folks who think the NHL still employs the second assist to help Crosby (I can't find the link, but trust me, those people are out there).
One poster had the following to say:
"...isn't that convenient, the Penguins are losing by a goal and the Caps best player gets injured and the Pittsburgh doctor takes his time getting to the dressing room and Ovechkin never gets back on the ice. Is this the ECHL or the NHL? I know at Verizon, the doctor sits directly behind the Caps bench and literally follows an injured player into the dressing room. Yet in Pittsburgh it takes him ten minutes..."
First off, it's insane to think that there's enough of a rivalry between the Caps and Pens to believe that either team would actually, you know, purposely deny medical service to the other. Sure, there's a rivalry there, but this is simply ridiculous and inhumane. Who knows, the doctor could have been attending to someone else at that moment in time. We have no idea, so there's the same chance that there could actually be a perfectly good reason for this as there being a perfectly bad one.
That's not to mention there was clearly no intention on Letang's part to injure Ovechkin. Again, is there a rivalry between these two teams? Yes. Is it one big enough for the Pens to try and sabotage a last place team that isn't even in their own division? Highly unlikely. The Pens simply don't need to waste time trying to sabotage the Capitals because the last place Capitals are doing that on their own already. This argument would hold a grain of salt if both of these teams were in a heated playoff race of some sort. Or anything remotely close to that.
Another poster replied with the following statement. My comments are in bold.
Again, that's what the trainers are there for. They're the first responders, if you will. Certainly the fact that it took a doctor 10 minutes to reach the dressing room was somewhat distressing and is something the Penguins should look into. That being said, to make the jump of associating this situation with Sean Taylor or Clint Malarchuk, is absurd. Had a horrific situation occurred, it's hard to believe that the Penguins would have sat back and done nothing. Actually, it's insane to believe.
"I mentioned the same thing late last night on my website about the potential disaster had it been a Clint Malarchuk-like injury."
First off, thanks for the shameless plus and blatant "what if" situation. Those two forces always combine for intelligent conversation.
"But this morning, I began thinking that the cut on Ovie's leg could have been just as bad -- if not worse. There is a main artery running through the leg that could have resulted in significant blood loss. Think no further than the death of Redskin Sean Taylor."
Ah, a nice Sean Taylor reference to appeal to our emotions! After seeing the play, it's hard to imagine Ovechkin having a main artery severed by nothing less than laying down on the ice and letting another player stomp on his thigh. Ovechkin wears hockey pants for a reason, and with Letang falling away from him, it would have been hard to imagine a serious situation occuring. Nonetheless, I'll bite. If, we assume, something super serious did occur, trainers would be on the ice instantly and 911 would certainly have been called. The fact that 911 was not called in this situation certainly makes it clear that Ovechkin was not, in fact, injured badly.
In a sport as physically grueling and violent as hockey, there should always be AT LEAST one doctor within a stone's throw of the dressing rooms. The league office needs to take a serious look into this and, depending on their findings, issue some sort of fine or commensurate punishment (giving a draft pick to the Caps would be nice!) to the Pittsburgh organization.
Update: Sean Leahy points out that the Washington Post mentions that the Pittsburgh doctor was in the middle of treating a Pens player at the time AO got hurt. I'd also like to point out that this likely does not represent most Caps fans.