Growing up, many of us sports fans heard stories from our fathers, mothers, grandparents, and extended family about who they saw play in their day. Iconic athletes that are now legends, including greats like Joe Montana, Ted Williams, Bobby Orr, and Arnold Palmer.
We listened in awe and imagined what it’d be like to have the privilege of watching the most exemplary athletes of all time. Now, as they sit comfortably in the Halls of Fame, we can only picture what it’d be like to watch them dominate their sports, creating an irreversible representation of greatness. Not to worry though, because we will have our own story to tell. Here in D.C, we have Alex Ovechkin.
What a story we’ll have. As he closes in on 1,000 career points, there is no question that Ovi will be a first ballot Hall of Famer, and may likely go down as the greatest goal-scorer to ever play the game. Since he was drafted by the Capitals in 2004, Alex Ovechkin has dazzled the hockey world with skills that had never been seen before, ever. He has almost single-handedly brought an entirely different style of play to the NHL, and fans in Washington have been unspeakably lucky to watch it unfold, live in front of their eyes. His highlight reel is endless, he has easily become the greatest Capital to ever hit the ice, and has literally brought hockey into Washington D.C. In the pre-Ovechkin era, after the Caps made the move from the Capitals Centre to what was then-MCI Center, Ted Leonsis had trouble filling up the lower bowl of the arena. The city’s NHL team was pretty awful, even after Ovechkin was drafted, but he has literally been the backbone to support the rapid growth of what is now an incredible franchise. Over the years, the Capitals have been built around him, and he has taken the reigns as captain, leading a team which is now an elite force, remaining in the top ranks of the league year after year.
Ovechkin has bundled numerous trophies, here’s a list.
Calder Memorial Trophy: 1 (Rookie of the year)
Art Ross Trophy : 1 (League’s leading point getter)
Lester B. Pearson/Ted Lindsay Award: 3 (League’s most outstanding player, voted by NHL Players Association)
Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy: 6 (League’s leading goal scorer)
*Ovechkin just tied Richard in career goals*
Hart Memorial Trophy: 3 (NHL’s most valuable player)
Quite the resume. Alex Ovechkin has also done ALL of this while wearing a Washington Capitals sweater. He may be the greatest athlete to represent Washington D.C, ever. If anybody has ever watched him play, they are witnessing one of the best hockey players to EVER play professionally, and it should not be taken for granted. He is one of the most explosive and tantalizing forwards to ever take the ice, creating an unforgettable experience for any person that’s watched him play. The best defenders and goaltenders in the league, through many years, have marveled at Alex’s abilities. Commentators and announcers, retired Hall of Famers, and even the best player to ever skate, Wayne Gretzky have stood in awe of The Great 8. The Great One has openly admitted that Ovechkin may have the greatest goal scored in the history of hockey.
Low and behold, Gretzky was there to witness it in person, behind the bench of the then- Phoenix Coyotes.
Not only is the best Capital ever a phenom on the ice, he is an absolute gem off of it. Since starting a life in Washington, he has devoted countless hours to charity, through numerous organizations. A story (one that he was trying to keep secret) unfolded that Ovechkin supports SEVEN orphanages in Russia. He is part of a gigantic Make-A-Wish campaign that he started on his own. There is an adorable story about a little girl with special needs, Ann Schaab, who has since befriended Ovechkin. The man went as far as taking the little one out on a date. There are multiple stories like this, so many that it’d take too long to mention them all. Today, Ovechkin went out of his way to spend a short time with a fan that had traveled thousands of miles to see him. Washintonians may not see these qualities, but be assured that the all-star lives a life of giving back, both on and off the ice. Alex has helped create a hockey culture in D.C, which has since helped transform what was a struggling area of the city. He is not only the captain of the Washington Capitals, he is somewhat a leader of the city itself.
One could speak of the rarity that is Alex Ovechkin for hours, but the point is that if you haven’t, you should make it a point to go see this man play in person. It is something that comparably, only a handful of the world’s population will be privileged to witness. Years down the road, when he is retired, he will solidify a spot in the Hall of Fame. The Great 8 will be known forever as one of the greatest players to ever lay a stick on the ice, and even if you aren’t a hockey fan, you should go see him before he isn’t playing anymore. Take your kids to go watch him play. Give yourself, and others, a story to tell…the day you saw the greatest goal-scorer ever take the ice.
As he bears down on point number 1,000, hockey fans around the world, especially here in the District, have been graced with an icon that will live on forever. We are lucky to have that. Thank you, Mr. Ovechkin.
By Brennan Reidy