We’ve seen many young international hockey players struggle with the idea of leaving their family and friends to play hockey in North America, and understandably so. It’s not easy to uproot your entire life at a young age and move to a foreign country, where you probably don’t know a soul, and probably don’t speak the language.
However, for Washington Capitals’ captain Alex Ovechkin, there was never a fear in leaving Russia to play hockey in America.
“Why be afraid of something? It so happened that at that time I signed a contract with the Avangard team in Omsk. There was a lockout season in the NHL, so I signed a contract with Omsk for two years, but only stayed there for about two weeks,”Ovechkin said in an interview with OK Magazine.
Ovechkin found out that the lockout was over late one night and had to scurry to sign his contract with the Capitals later that evening.
“They called me from Washington and said that the lockout was over and that a contract had to be signed urgently. At 10 o’clock in the evening, Omsk time, we ran to the hotel – we had to find a fax. We signed a contract by fax and sent it to America.”
With the contract signed, Ovechkin had just 10 days to notify the Avangard team of his departure, pack his belongings, say goodbye to family and friends and travel to the US to report to Capitals camp.
“The next day I had to tell the team about my decision. I flew to Moscow, I had a maximum of ten days to say goodbye to my parents and friends. And that’s it, I flew to America. It is clear that there was such a moment: where am I flying? I don’t know anyone there, and nobody knows me there.”
Ovechkin returned to Virginia earlier this week and made his first appearance at MedStar Capitals Iceplex on Thursday. He and the Capitals open their 2021-22 campaign on Wednesday, October 13 when the host the New York Rangers at Capital One Arena.
By Jon Sorensen