Photo: Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is only two goals away from hitting the 700-goal plateau. Fans and players are buzzing with excitement as he inches closer to yet another milestone. Capitals’ center and fellow Russian Evgeny Kuznetsov spoke to NBC4 Washington last week about his thoughts on his teammate’s race to reach The Great One.
He believes Ovechkin can surpass Wayne Gretzky’s all-time record of 894 goals. “He just 32, right? 33? Whatever,” Kuznetsov said, stumbling on his captain’s age (34), “32? No?”
After joking Ovechkin “just turned 18 yesterday”, Kuznetsov thinks as long as Ovechkin stays healthy, he could play another four years. “For him, 200 more goals is probably four years, right?”
Kuznetsov said it’s “tough” to fully understand the significance of Ovechkin, who they consider a friend and see every day at the rink and on the road. “For some people [he’s] just different, right? They look at him like Jesus,” Kuznetsov said, adding, “Every day we see each other so for us it’s just normal. It’s kind of a little bit tough to realize who we play with.”
When Kuznetsov retires, he’s “going to share some stories about [Ovechkin] like people share with Wayne Gretzky.”
Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Last summer, Ovechkin spent time in Moscow painting with children from the Russian Sled Hockey team, participating in ceremonial puck drop for former KHL team, Dynamo Moscow, and taking part in the second annual “Alexander Ovechkin Cup”, a hockey tournament for 12-year-olds.
Kuznetsov explained the effects Ovechkin has had on the youth, saying “it’s everything” in their home country.
“When you even have one player like that, the people back home, the kids back home, they’re going to watch. They’re going to try to have the same success like you had,” Kuznetsov said. “It’s pretty tough for the kids in some other countries where they don’t have a favorite player—they don’t have anyone like Ovi, who’s like a Jesus for them.”
When kids have people like Ovechkin, Kuznetsov concluded that “they want to be the same”, which encourages and inspires children to do their best.
By Della Young
— NBC4 Sports (@NBC4Sports) February 7, 2020