Shortly before returning to the United States on Sunday, Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin sat for an interview with Russian media outlet Sport24. In the interview Ovechkin discussed his son Sergei’s love for hockey, the coming NHL season, new head coach Peter Laviolette and more. The following is a translation of the interview.
The other day, as I understand it, a very significant event happened for your family – the eldest son Sergei first skated.
“Yes. We planned to put him on the ice back in America, before the start of the playoffs, but because of the pandemic, everything closed, and we had to postpone it indefinitely. Thank God we have managed to implement this plan now. He was very happy and expected this. Our whole family was excited about this. We put him on the ice, he got up and even skated a little himself. The first step has been taken. So, God willing.”
Is this surprising to you? He’s only two years old.
“Of course it’s amazing. My mother said it was too early because the bones were still weak and he might fall. Yes, he fell, but nowadays it’s a good defense. He fell, got up, asked for a stick to score a goal. And we enjoyed it, and so did he.”
Videos in which Sergey performs hockey stunts are gaining millions of views. Many famous couples, for example, Evgeni Plushenko and Yana Rudkovskaya, make their children stars from a very young age. How do you feel about the fact that Sergei and Ilya cannot avoid early popularity? Could this have a negative impact on children?
“We are definitely not trying to make any stars out of our children. We just enjoy what he does at his age, and show the fans that our son can juggle the puck, hits the puck and picks it up. So that’s okay. I am not worried that this could negatively affect the children.”
“Alex sometimes tries to be a strict dad, but he is bad at it,” – these are the words of your wife. Do you really not scold your sons at all?
“Sometimes there are situations when you need to raise your voice. And so, no, I don’t scold. I am kind.”
The start of the NHL season was announced for January 13th. Do you think it’s realistic to start so soon?
“Anything can be. But, again, it is not clear how this will all happen, where we will live and play … Will we have a “bubble” or an ordinary stadium … While I am here in Russia, I cannot say anything concrete.” (the interview took place last week, at the end of which Ovechkin went to the USA).
Does it make sense to spend the season without spectators, because the NHL does not have such large contracts for broadcasting games as, for example, the NBA.
“It’s not up to us to decide. If we are told that we need to play, we will play. We have contracts, and we are obliged to perform and show everything that we are capable of.”
My colleague from Washington, Samantha Pell, said that the candidacy of Peter Laviolette was agreed with you personally – is that so?
“(Laughs) They didn’t agree with me, they just shared their opinions and impressions. There is someone there to discuss and agree on.”
Why exactly is he able to bring Washington the second Stanley Cup?
“Laviolette is an experienced man, once he led Carolina to the championship, several times he was in the Stanley Cup finals with different teams. This is a tremendous experience. God grant that everything will grow together and we will win.”
You have already been tortured with questions about the new contract, but I will ask one more. Will you conduct the negotiations on your own or will you involve someone to help?
“No, everything is the same. I will negotiate myself.”
You finally managed to celebrate your birthday at home. From whom did you receive the most unusual congratulations and gifts?
“There were so many gifts and congratulations … I cannot single out one. Everyone congratulated, everyone enjoyed it – me, my family and friends.”
Did Vladimir Putin give you a tea set for your wedding? What is the fate of this set, where is it kept, have you ever drank tea from it?
“It is stored at our house, everything is fine with it. But we didn’t drink tea from it (laughs).”
Too important gift?
Journalists thought that for the new season you could earn only 2.7 million instead of 10 – doesn’t it bother you?
“The situation in the world is such that we cannot influence it. So, it’s a sin for us to complain.”
Throughout your career, you constantly supported Khabib Nurmagomedov – were you very surprised at his decision to leave the sport?
“Of course, it’s a pity that he announced his retirement. Maybe there will be several more fights in his performance, because in reality it is all very spectacular. It is interesting to watch and experience it.”
When the time comes, will it be important for you to leave on a winning, champion’s note?
“I haven’t thought about it yet. Wait and see. I have ambitions in this regard, but I cannot say anything yet.”
In April, you named the top five of your dreams – Semin, Fedorov, Markov and Nikulin. And if you do not limit yourself to the Russians, what partners would you choose for such a top five?
“Niklas Beckstrom, Tom Wilson, defenders Mike Green and John Carlson, from the goalkeepers I would have chosen – Braden Holtby.”
In Canada, they launched a figure skating show with former NHL players. If you are offered to participate in this after the end of your career, will you agree?
“(Laughs) No. I will definitely not participate.”
The most delicious dish that you have tried in your life and where was it?
“Homemade. The cutlets my wife makes. Garnish with rice or buckwheat.”
Coffee or tea?
Chicken or fish?
What is the most beautiful place you’ve been to?
The happiest moment in your life?
“The birth of my sons.”
What was the saddest moment in your hockey career?
Olympic gold or Gretzky’s record – you can only choose one. –
“If only one, then Olympic gold.”
How do you imagine your life in 20 years?
“To live … In our time.”
“When you’re in front of Joe Biden, what do you tell him?
“Hello (laughs) .”
Full interview on Sport24 is here.