It’s never a bad week to be Ovi, but this past one was especially special for our captain. He scored his 50th goal on the season, but his most impressive move may have come off the ice. Comcast Sportsnet’s Russ Thaler blogged about a terrific encounter he and his family had with the Gr8 out at the team’s practice facility earlier this week. If you haven’t already read Russ’ account of his 4-year-old son Will’s close encounter with our captain you really should. Thaler rightly reminds us that our sport is populated by the most accessible and gracious athletes in all of sports, and one day after his 4th birthday Will Thaler had a brush with hero greatness he probably won’t forget.
This morning’s New York Times Magazine also offers an expansive feature on our captain penned by Chuck McGrath. In it McGrath asks, “Can a bone-crushing, limelight-loving, ridiculously talented import named Alexander Ovechkin become American hockey’s first true crossover star?”
“to be Alexander Ovechkin in Washington these days is not such a bad thing. He is the franchise and has turned the city, where the main winter sport used to be complaining about the Redskins, into an unlikely hockey hotbed. The Capitals have been in Washington since 1974, but except for one uncharacteristic year in the late ’90s when they made it to the Stanley Cup finals, the team’s record was lackluster for decades and attendance was spotty. In 2003-4, after the team began shedding a lot of high-priced but underperforming stars, its home rink was often half-empty. Now, however, the Verizon Center is newly refurbished and jammed every few nights with 18,277 blissful fans, most of them decked out in red, the team color. Television ratings have increased 146 percent since 2008. And as the sportscaster Al Michaels remarked recently, at the football stadium you see almost as many people in Caps jerseys as in Skinswear.’
And Comcast Sportsnet’s Lisa Hillary had some fun with Nick Backstrom and Ovi after both earned a split of a puck at Friday night’s game with Atlanta: