The Washington Capitals just won their first Stanley Cup in the club’s 44-year history. Images wrap around the world when the stars Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Bäckström and André Burakovsky hug and shout their joy on the ice full of people at T-mobile arena. There are tears and emotions de luxe. A celebration for several days that never seems to end. But less than two weeks later, Andre Burakovsky is home in his brand new apartment in the western harbor of Malmö (Sweden) (photo above).
“It was sick … Maybe a little surprising that we won this year. Actually, we have had significantly better teams the past two years. When we stood there as a champions, it was quite difficult to understand what we were doing,” Burakovsky said.
“It was unbelievable that we stood there for so many games, certainly 125-130 including the pre-season. And there has been so much hype around that Washington never won and that we will never win. Ovechkin, he stepped up and played as well as he did. That was unreal.”
Why did you succeed this time then?
“I think it helped that there were not so many people who believed in us this year. That much of the press disappeared from our shoulders. We could focus on what we are good at and not what is written and heard around.”
You were most involved in the final spot as a two-game match hero in game seven against Tampa Bay – and then you scored the final goal in the final …
“It was fun to contribute something big. I have had a bit of an injury this season and when I came back in the playoffs I had difficulty finding my game. Then I had an injury on the thumb that distracted.”
What did you say to each other on the ice after the game?
“We shouted most straight out, we fucking did it. It was just pure joy that came out.”
Do you remember what the first thing you said to your father was?
Andre: “No, no idea”.
Robert: (Father) “Yes, you said,” Dad we did it, I love you.”
Andre: “No. I do not think so”, said André, shaking his head with a smile.
Robert: “Well, I’m getting tears in my eyes when I think about it.”
Robert: “The last six minutes was just the hassle of that match. I sat outside the stairs and walked up and down them a few hundred times. We were the parents who were there and we know what they have gone through. They’ve got incredible crap from Washington people. The one who was most moved was Ovechkin. It is he who has carried the dog head when he has not succeeded. I think everyone was happy for his sake.”
Alexander Oveckin’s celebration has spread – did you celebrate as hard?
“Yes, absolutely! We all celebrated all the same. Everyone was crazy. I saw an article that featured “Washington the drunkest champions ever”. There were a lot of writings about Ovechkin because he is the world’s most famous hockey player, but everyone has gone crazy.
“It’s fun for our owner as well. He survived an air accident many years ago and then decided that he would own an arena and have two teams that both won the title. He owns us and the basketball team. It’s fun for him to succeed with one of the goals.”
Tell us about your new tattoos, the Stanley Cup date, and your whole family’s birthdates …
“We talked before the final game that if we were to win, we would do something memorable, something we could carry with us. I came across tattoos, I’ve never done it and I’ve always said it should mean something in that case.”
“We partied and I called and rented a party bus. There we partied until we filled up with the team … Then we took the party bus back again, it was tremendous fun.
But at least you included the whole family’s birth dates, including your two sisters …?
“I called my Mother and said I needed the dates, she asked why, I said – see you later. She would not have sent them to me if I told her is was for a tattoo.”
Have you seen that image from the ice …
… when a girl in the crowd shows the breasts to me?
“Yes, there has been a lot of talk about it on social media. I was completely shocked, shit …! But I thought I’d be kidding a bit so I walked by and tumbled with my fingers in the air.
Father Robert sticks in:
“What I think is the most amazing thing is to get started at twelve o’clock in the day and you’re not just hanging out with the team, but you mix in the middle of the club with the fans. They really got to see the Stanley Cup with the guys.”
“For us it was a matter of course. It’s not just us who won but the whole city as a unit. That’s awesome, explains André.”
It must have been special to be in Vegas in the final too …?
“It was the coolest place to play. The whole setup with all the fans and the arena became like a big nightclub. Everyone just screamed and it has very loud music. It was really cool just to be in Vegas.”
“They did amazing this season, I’m incredibly impressed with how they’ve got together the team over a summer and gone all the way to the Stanley Cup final.”
What are you planning for when the Stanley Cup comes to Malmö?
“I want to take it to my parent’s club in Limhamn. Show it to the public and all the children. After that we are looking forward to a restaurant with the closest friends, family and family and then party with it.
It’s said it’s heavier than you think …
“Yes, it’s quite heavy. It felt like lifting it up.”
Have you got your ring?
“No, we’ve just tried the size, I think we’ll get it when we get back. It’s worth a lot of money, so it’s good not to sweep it away.”
Who are you closest to on the team?
“Nicklas Bäckström. We have become extremely close to each other during these years and make every possible joke together.”
What kind of shit do you talk about …?
“Things no one can record in the media. We are hanging out at the hotels and we stop lying and wrestling and talking crazy about each other and just the way we talk to each other … It’s hard to explain. We will come to words during the year that will make fun. Words that people do not understand.
And somewhere here, Robert reveals that all of Andre’s teammates kids are flocking around André. They are at the same level,” he jokes.
“Yes, I think it’s fun to hang out with the kids. John Carlson’s child calls me uncle. We play hockey in the basement, watch children’s programs and then he wants to play with cars. And Nickla’s (Backstrom) two children get crazy and are around me every time.
Do you long for children?
“I have never thought it was hard to take care of their children, but ready for children …. I’ll probably find a girlfriend first before I start planning it.”
How is it to play on the same team as Alexander Oveckin?
“It’s bad fun. It’s never boring around him. He also finds things that are fun. You never stop being surprised.”
“Then he is the world’s best player, if you look at him, you enjoy his game.”
You are 23 years old now and have already won the biggest one to win as a hockey player – can it be a bit of an emptiness now or you just have a taste of your taste?
“As Oveckin said, back to back, now we go for the next title too. There are many who have never experienced this, but now that we have seen how big it is and how much fun we have, everyone wants to do it again so clearly. We have been there and really want to go back.
Interview by Elisabeth Lindback