Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was interviewed in Episode Two of “Men in Blazers” hosted by Roger Bennett. The pair discussed Ovechkin’s early hockey career in Russia, getting drafted by the Capitals in 2004, his NHL debut and first career goal, and the wild, memorable Stanley Cup Championship celebrations that involved fountains and lots of alcohol.
From Moscow to Washington
Ovechkin faced many obstacles growing up in Moscow. He used hockey to pull himself out of the “tough life” in a challenging, rough neighborhood. When Ovechkin was 16, he spent three seasons playing professionally for Dynamo Moscow. He later played for the Russian National Team and was the youngest player at only 17-years-old.
At the 2004 NHL Entry Draft in Raleigh, North Carolina, the Capitals selected Ovechkin first overall. The Draft was the last NHL event before the 2004-05 lockout, resulting in Ovechkin playing for Dynamo for another season. Ovechkin signed with Washington on August 5, 2005. The move from Russia to D.C. was a “little scary” as he did not speak any English or have any friends in the area.
NHL Debut and First Goals
Two months later, Ovechkin made his NHL debut on October 5 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He made a memorable first shift when he landed a check on former Blue Jackets’ defenseman Radoslav Suchy. His hit was so hard it broke the plexiglass partition off. Ovechkin said, “I was young, I was crazy, and when you have that strength in your body, I think you have to use it…have to send a message.
Bennett asked Ovechkin what message he wanted to send not only to the Blue Jackets but to the entire NHL. “One crazy Russian came to the league,” he said.
Ovechkin scored two goals in the 3-2 win over Columbus. He calls his first goal a “relief” and “something you dream.”
Bennett also asked Ovechkin if he had any fear in that game. “When you play hockey, you don’t have a fear,” Ovechkin replied. “As soon as you step on the ice, everything goes away and you’re focusing on the puck and you’re focusing on the players.”
The Stanley Cup & Award-Winning Celebrations
June 7, 2018.
The Stanley Cup Final.
Game 5 against the Vegas Golden Knights.
One victory stood between the Capitals and Lord Stanley.
And it happened.
The Capitals are Stanley Cup Champions. Alex Ovechkin is a Stanley Cup Champion.
As The Great Eight said, the Capitals were going to “get some beers, get some whatever, and start celebrating!”
And they did.
The summer of 2018 was a wild and unforgettable series of championship celebrations in Vegas, D.C., and players’ respective home countries. Perhaps the most memorable moments were Ovechkin’s keg stand out of the Cup and the one and only fountain party at Georgetown Waterfront.
“That was sick,” Ovechkin said. “That was [a] sick moment.” Why did he and other Capitals players do that? According to Ovechkin, it was a blazing, hot day in the nation’s capital and he wanted to celebrate with the fans and “share the happiness together.”
He brought the Stanley Cup back to Russia. Ovechkin went to his hometown rink Novogorsk Dynamo Hockey School where he shared a “special moment” with his father, one of his biggest supporters. “That’s why you work so hard.” Relive Ovechkin’s days with the Cup here and here.
“As soon as you taste what victory is, you just want to repeat again and again,” Ovechkin concluded.
Watch the full interview, which also features Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper and Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews here:
You can check out Roger Bennett’s other interview with forward T.J. Oshie here.
By Della Young