Since breaking into the league during the 2005-06 season, Alex Ovechkin has been a force to be reckoned with. If there is one thing about his game that hasn’t changed, it would be his offensive prowess, scoring 50 goals or more in seven of his 11 seasons. However, his one kryptonite was his defensive game. Ovechkin, was known to be lazy in his defensive zone. His lack of effort cost his team goals in crucial games, and even contributed to him being benched at some key moments of the game. Nonetheless, like any superstar, in any sport, he could work on his game and fix it. He became a huge player, not only for the Washington Capitals, but for the NHL.
There was always the debate of who was the better player; Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby? At first it was easy to say Crosby, as he has a Stanley Cup ring and never had problems defensively. Now, even though Ovechkin is ringless, he still has made his mark in the league, leading the league in scoring or just making sure everyone knows he is on the ice no matter what zone he is in. He was never shy of throwing his body around and he knows if he is doing this, he will get it back from other teams. However, that doesn’t bother him and that could be why even though most fans boo him, they still respect him.
For a player as big as Ovechkin his life is always in the media. There are things he tries to keep a secret and things he may not want out in the open. So we want to take time and remind you guys of some interesting facts behind Alex Ovechkin that you need to know. These go to show you why he is considered one of the best.
15 His Friend
A lot of athletes have friends that are also athletes. It doesn’t matter what sport they play. You see it in every sport. Henrik Lundqvist is friends with John McEnroe. You'll even find athletes that are fans of teams in different sports, like Matt Harvey from the Mets being a huge New York Rangers fan.
The same goes for Ovechkin, as his friend is an athlete of another sport. His friend is also from where he is from, a Russian basketball player, Andrei Kirilenko. It isn’t strange that they are friends considering they are both from Russia. As a matter of fact, Ovechkin was engaged to a Maria Kirilenko, however, the two are not related. Could Kirilenko be the Russian version of the American Smith?
14 His Favorite English Saying
We all know Alex Ovechkin comes to us from Moscow, Russia. However, he still speaks the English language pretty well. Considering he has been in the United States for over 10 years now I guess you can say that is expected of him. Yet, every non-native English speaker has their favorite English sayings. Do you know Ovechkin’s? No? Well today is your lucky day because you’re about to find out!
“No Problem.” A pretty easy phrase to remember. Why is it Ovechkin’s favorite saying? Maybe early in his career when he was told the team needed him to score a goal, that's all he had to say.
13 His Nickname
Every great hockey player has a nickname. The Great One, the Messiah, The Russian Rocket or Sid the Kid. So it is no surprise that Ovechkin has one as well. The one Ovechkin was given is “Alexander the GR8” which is a play on words and his number. What is even cooler about the nickname, it was given to Ovechkin through a poll the fans took. The best part about the poll, was that it wasn’t just fans of the Capitals that voted for the nickname, considering the fact that Bauer conducted the poll. That just shows the respect he has from other fans.
12 2006-07 Goals vs. Division Rivals
Ovechkin has been a scoring machine since coming into the league. He has at least one goal against every team in the NHL. The only team he hasn’t purposely scored on would be the Washington Capitals. I say purposely because he may have accidentally deflected a shot past his goaltender at some point.
In the 2006-07 season Ovi was a scoring machine against division rivals. He tallied 25 goals against divisional opponents, the most of any player in NHL history. A division goalie he has the most success against is Henrik Lundqvist. In his career he has the most goals scored on Lundqvist, with 20 goals on 170 shots. He is shooting 11.2% on The King.
11 2006 Olympics
While playing for team Russia in the 2006 Olympics, Ovechkin scored five goals in eight games. Team Russia would finish fourth, losing to the Czech Republic in the bronze medal match. Not only did they lose, they were shutout 3-0. However, even though Ovechkin's Russia team didn’t medal, his efforts didn’t go unnoticed. He was named to the Olympics' All-Tournament team. He was the only player who was named to the team whose country didn’t win a medal.
Since the 2006 Olympics Ovi hasn’t had much luck. The next two Olympics he has combined for 3 goals and 3 assists. Not All-Tournament material.
10 The World Cup
In 2004 Ovechkin played in the World Cup for team Russia. That year the team finished 10th and I am sure he wishes he was of more help to the team. He only totaled two points, one goal and one assist. Nonetheless, that didn’t stop him from breaking a record at the time. He was just 19 years old playing in the World Cup, setting the record for the youngest player to play in the event. Even though it is an outstanding accomplishment for anyone in the world of hockey, we all know it would have felt so much better to him if they won gold.
9 International Play
For any hockey player there is no better feeling than lifting the Stanley Cup at the end of a long season. However, the next best feeling would be playing for your country for international play. For Ovechkin, he knows he is a sure walk on for team Russia. Between the years of 2002 and 2006, Ovi scored 53 in just 63 international games for team Russia. Yes, the NHL provides the best competition for any player in the world, but international play is no walk in the park either. You are playing other countries' top players, so in order to do what he did is incredible.
8 The Shootout
Since the 2005-06 season, the shootout has been a way for the NHL to eliminate ties during the regular season. If the game was still tied at the end of the Overtime period the teams went to the shootout. The shootout made the end of the games interesting for the fans in attendance and at home. However, as of recently they are trying to make it as irrelevant as possible. For Ovechkin, the shootout was just another way for him to get his name in the record books. The first ever shootout goal for the Washington Capitals came off the stick of Alex Ovechkin, once again proving his dominance in the league.
7 All-Star Game
There are a lot a people who don’t care for the NHL All-Star game because of the lack of intensity or passion the players show during the game. The biggest reason for this, is there is no implication involved to make them motivated to play, like with the MLB and home field advantage during the World Series. However, even though the players don’t try much defensively, they are still proud to make it to the big game. For Alex, in the 2007-08 season he became the first Capital since Rod Langway to star in an All-Star game.
6 First-Team NHL All-Star As a Rookie
As stated in the previous category, the NHL All-Star game is iffy to fans. I am obviously not going to go through the whole rant about it again. For any NHL player it is a big accomplishment to find out you will be representing you team at the big event. Yet, there is something that could make it even better. Ovechkin was able to do something that no rookie since Teemu Selanne did in the 1992-93 season. He was the first rookie since Selanne to be named a First-Team NHL All-star, once again showing at a young age that he would mean a lot for the NHL.
5 Caps Care Classic
Caps Care is a huge success for the Washington Capitals on and off the ice. Through this organization the Capitals look to make a difference through the local community. The goal of the organization is to provide the community with a team everyone could be proud of while also trying to maintain programs throughout the community and encourage participation in hockey. In 2006 the Caps Cares had a golf classic tournament. During the tournament Alex Ovechkin served as the chairman. However, not only was he the chairman, he also showed off some golf skills. During a practice round Ovechkin gave a “swing” at trying golf and was successful in hitting a hole-in-one.
4 His Rap Verse
Yes, you read that right. Ovechkin was in a rap song where he had his own verse. The song was 'Champion' by Russian rapper Sasha Belyi. After a nice introduction around the 2:50 mark Ovi raps for a good 20 seconds. His flows seem to tell us that he is not only good on the ice but that he is also good on the mic. And thankfully to a video on YouTube we can leave you with his verse translated to English.
“Started out in Dynamo, Number 8 on my back,Appeared in the All-Star game, All attention on me,At age 17, went to the Worlds, (hockey championship)100 points a season, Gold in Canada in 2008,Top 10 of best players, In less than 10 years,In my hands, a hockey stick, In my headphones, rap.Saying hello, right from Washington,With Sasha White for every Champion”
3 90-point Seasons
Since breaking into the league Ovechkin has been a goal scoring machine. Either on the power play, penalty kill or even strength he is the one guy you don’t want to leave unmarked. However, sometimes even covering him doesn’t work. Just look at the goal he scored against the Coyotes with Paul Mara all over him scoring on his back. So it is no surprise to any hockey fan that he was able to accomplish this next feat. Ovechkin was the first Washington Capital since Dennis Maruk to record back-to-back 90-point seasons, something that is hard to complete in one season, yet he did it twice.
2 Rookie Season
If there was one thing the rookie season of Ovechkin provided fans, it would be great things to come in the future, breaking a few records his first season as a NHL star. The first was he scored the most points by a Russian-born rookie and any rookie left winger in NHL history. He followed that up with being the only NHL player to have twice as many goals and shots as any other teammate. Lastly, he established a new team rookie record with 52 goals, 54 assists, 106 points, 21 power play goals and 425 shots. It might be safe to say there may be no other rookie like him.
1 Crazy 8s Charity
For a lot of stars, giving back is big with them. If there is a way to give back to the community they will always do it. So it is no surprise that the same goes with Ovechkin. However, he gives back a little different than most. For every home game Ovi will buy eight great seats and then donates them to soldiers or needy children as part of his Crazy 8 Charity. It is always a great thing to see athletes do. What makes it even better is he does it for the heroes that protect him and then for the kids who look to him as a hero. Love him or hate him, you have to admit he is a pretty amazing person.