On Wednesday, Svetlana Abrosimova conducted an interview with Alex Ovechkin on Instagram Live. The interview covered numerous subjects including training during self-isolation, his diet, Kobe Bryant, and retirement.
AO: The first salary I received was when I played for Dynamo 2 [Moscow Dynamo “Farm” Team equivalent]. I then earned about 400 or 500 dollars, but I gave all the money to my parents. Then, when promoted to the main Dynamo team, they gave me a raise to a thousand dollars. We had no bonuses. When I came to America and signed an entry level contract, I needed to fulfill certain performance milestones to earn incentive bonuses.
AO: While in quarantine, we play soccer in a common open field with my coach Pasha [personal trainer Pavel Burlachenko] and with Kuzey [Evgeny Kuznetsov]. There is no ice, but they are closed. Nobody is panicking. Everyone is trying to stay at home, but for me, it is very important to be on the move. I need to keep fit. How much time do I need to get in shape before the season if it resumes? I think 7-10 days.
Captainship in the Capitals
AO: When I arrived at Washington and I was chosen as captain, I was very worried and afraid to say something to the guys. But they helped me adapt. I have very good relations with everyone, of course, but mainly with the Russians. But sometimes I will go to a restaurant with foreign [non-Russian] players to chat.
Five Dream Players to Play With
AO: My five dream players to play with on the national team: Alexander Semin, Sergei Fedorov, Andrei Markov and Ilya Nikulin. With these guys, everyone would be beaten up at the Olympics. I’d like to play against the Americans and Canadians. Does the unpleasant political situation affect us? No, we Russians are treated the same way as before.
AO: I came to [organized] hockey late, and I had to catch up to the other guys. At the age of eight, I could barely stand on skates. I had three practices a day. My father had to quit work to deal with helping me. [In reality, Ovechkin’s father had quit his job to drive a taxi since the hours were more flexible and allowed him time to help his son.] But I immediately liked hockey.
And when I first broke the Bure record, it became clear to me that maybe I could play professionally. [When Ovechkin was 14 years old, he had broken Pavel Bure’s record for goals scored in the Moscow tournament.] Making it professionally takes a lot of work, good luck, and being in the right place at the right time. A lot of guys play hockey but very few make it professionally and can be counted with fingers.
Meals During Quarantine
AO: While in quarantine, I did not change my diet. I ate the same things as I did before. My wife cooks very well. Sometimes it makes me spoiled. Most of all, I love meatballs and borscht, which Nastya [Ovechkin’s wife] prepares.
AO: When my team could not win the Cup, the pressure was enormous. We could not get through the second round. I wondered what was wrong. Maybe it was necessary to change the team personnel or was it with the lineups. The NHL is a colossal business that only coronavirus can stop. The team is not built in just one year, but several years. When we first hit the playoffs in my third year, we celebrated as if we had won the Stanley Cup.
But further development was necessary. And we did not understand what was the matter. When team lost to Pittsburgh in 2017, many important players left. The next year, we rallied, and we got luckier. We really showed out championship game that season, playing like a machine.
Return to Russia
AO: I have not thought about what I will do after the end of my career. Perhaps, I’ll work as a general manager. Most likely, I will return to Russia, as Russia is my home.
Reception With President Dmitry Medvedev at Kremlin
AO: Why did I go visit the president in beach sandals [after winning the 2008 IIHF World Championships]? When we flew into Moscow, we were dressed in track suits for our flight and immediately went to the Kremlin. Dmitry Anatolyevich [President Dmitry Medvedev] had not seen where the players had come from. I hope people understood that I didn’t do this on purpose.
End of Career and National Team
AO: As long as I am healthy, I will play for the national team. The KHL season ends earlier than ours. But if we get eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs early, we then play in the World Cup. The most difficult thing for me in the games for the national team is getting used to the larger ice surface. I need time, practicing, and games to adapt.
About Kobe Bryant
AO: The news of his [Bryant’s] death was a very difficult moment for the entire sports world. Legendary person. He always treated me very well, greeted and smiled. He gave sneakers and a T-shirt. The inscription on the shirt: “The Greatest Alex.”
Sports Express Report of Instagram Interview
By Diane Doyle