This has been the year for Alexander Ovechkin, the kid from Russia, to set new records that few behind him will ever come close to breaking. There is no denying how incredible he is on the ice. Just look at some of his milestones:
- 900 NHL Points (First Caps player, second fastest & 4th Russian player to reach the milestone)
- 500 NHL Goals (Fifth fastest to reach the goal and first Russian to hit 500 in the NHL & 43rd in the NHL)
- 800 games in the NHL
- 932 points (Caps franchise leader)
- 184 power play goals (Caps franchise leader)
- 16 Overtime Game-Winning Goals (Caps franchise leader)
- Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP award voted on by the players) Four-time winner
- Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy (NHL Leading Scorer) Five-time winner
- Ted Lindsay Award ( League Outstanding player voted by the NHL Players Association ) Two-time winner
And he’s only 30!
The Face of Hockey
It is doubtful that anyone understood the impact Ovechkin would have on hockey when he was drafted by the Washington Capitals in 2004. When he finally hit the ice in the United States he did it with a bang—scoring two goals against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Before the season was over he also earned his first hat trick. He completed his rookie season as a league leader and hockey in Washington and the NHL has never been the same.
The GR8 brought a sense of excitement to the game that became the reason many of us fell in love with hockey. We waited to see if he would score from his seat on the ice again. We dubbed his shooting zone the “Ovi Office.” We flooded the NHL with red jersey’s rocking the number 8. Some even began to learn Russian because of Alex. The Russian Machine even helped birth a new blog and set the stage for all of us to become hockey bloggers.
Then there is the man whose private life the media and bloggers delight writing about. He’s the guy with the flashy cars we see zipping around Virginia and DC. He’s the one with the house gate that bears his logo. And he’s the guy whose dad drives his SUV and who lives with his son when Papa O and Momma O are here. He’s the guy who when he was younger was seen in the DC night scene and now hosts some of the best player parties at his beautiful home in Virginia. He is flamboyant, charismatic, and everything a sports star should be. And we love him for it.
But there is so much more to him. Spending time around Kettler Capitals Iceplex, we have seen the many faces of Alex. He is the guy who encourages his teammates. He has a boyish impish toothless grin and is a bit of a prankster. Most recently he did just that when the media was interviewing Mike Richards and he stuck his phone in the mix as if he was part of the press corp. And if there is a pie to be shoved in someone’s face, it is most likely Ovi doing the mashing. He is also professional and with his many obligations off the ice, he can be seen flying out the door, into his car, and down the road to his meeting. Put a child in front of him, and he melts.
Speaking of children. In the past year we have learned from his mother, Tatyana, about his dedication to the orphans in Russia. His mother revealed that Alex has been supporting seven special-needs orphanages with hockey equipment. His mother said that what he is doing should serve as an example for others to give as well (RMNB).
And then there is Ann Schabb—his special gal. Ann, who has Downs Syndrome, went out with Ovi on a sushi date back in 2014 after she asked him out during an event which Ovi was attending for her hockey team. Then there was the 2015 All Star game in which he tried so hard to be picked last to win the car, for Ann and the Ice Dogs. Fast forward to the Caps 2015 home opener where Ann was Ovi’s escort down the red carpet, she hung on to him the whole time he was doing his interview with Elliot Segal and it was one of the most heartwarming moments we have had the privilege of witnessing.
He is a man in love. We have watched him look lovingly at his fiancé Nastya Shubskaya when she comes to practice. He will make faces at his best friend sitting in the bleachers. And then there is the look for approval from his father at practice. It was fabulous to see Papa O celebrating at Verizon Center when Alex scored his 500th goal. You see, it’s all about family and friends for Alex. When he scored his goal his teammates joined him on the ice because it wasn’t just his goal—it was theirs too. Later he would give a nod to the fans, as he often does. That is the humility behind the bravado of Alex Ovechkin and the real reason we love him like we do.