People would have said that about JT Superstar before he was dealt. He's the only reason anyone goes to the rink in Boston.
They dealt him. For fifty sticks of hockey card gum and a German goalscoring facemask. They got better.
I'll just repeat my Sparta analogy here: The Bruins are a great team because every guy looks after his responsibility to be where he's supposed to be as a commitment to the other players on the ice. The wingers go to where the D expect them to be. The C goes to where the wingers can make the pass. They support the puck, they cycle, they put the puck into spaces where they know their teammates will be heading. It's like the great Red Army teams - like they have one mind. Except not, because offensively, guys have the freedom to try things as long as they don't leave their teammates exposed. I like this. I think this is beautiful hockey, like the insides of an antique watch when it's going to plan.
I don't like exceptionalism. I don't like the idea that Ovechkin or Jagr or Thornton or Seguin should be given latitude and fewer defensive responsibilities because they're way better at scoring than their teammates. I don't believe it produces better results. Maybe it did in the 70s and 80s, but Jacques Lemaire always seemed to imply that the Devils played the same way as his Scab teams did in the 70s.
Ovechkin's a great goalscorer. I would appreciate him more if I felt he was scoring 50 while also working hard to help his team win in all areas. Otherwise, I feel a little like the total has a bit of a tarnish on it, like the goal total has been the point and not using his talent to help his team win.