Bally Sports Columbus
Since he entered the National Hockey League, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has become not only the inspiration to scores of young hockey players in the DMV, but in his native Russia. Ahead of the Caps’ Tuesday night matchup against the Columbus Blue Jackets, one of those young players responded like a kid in a candy store when asked about meeting his idol.
While it will be purely competitive in Columbus on Wednesday night, Russian players from both teams met the night before for dinner, among them Blue Jackets’ star rookie Kirill Marchenko, who lit up when asked about meeting Ovechkin.
“Wow, you know my name”, Marchenko told reporters prior to tonight’s contest, “It’s cool…I’m very happy. We talk no hockey, only life. For me it’s a great dinner.”
Who says you should never meet your heroes?
Kirill Marchenko says otherwise. #CBJ | @ovi8 pic.twitter.com/mXCyNKQJ8U
— Bally Sports Columbus (@BallySportsCBUS) January 31, 2023
Ovechkin, who is in his 18th season in the league, was asked to reflect on his status as a mentor for young Russian players coming into the league.
“He’s great, we met up, lots of Russians went for dinner, talk, have some stories, and yeah it’s pretty cool. I try do my best, obviously I can tell ‘follow me, look at me’, but it’s nice if young players growing up look at how I play, what I’m doing out there, it’s pretty cool.”
Marchenko, who is tied for second in the NHL among Rookies with 13 goals with Dallas’ Wyatt Johnston, showed his admiration for the league’s second all-time leading goal-scorer when given the suggestion he could score a goal against Washington.
“I hope, no, no, when he stays on the ice?”, he responded, “No, no, he sits on the bench then I can score, if he stay on the ice, then no goal. I joking, I joking”, he said smiling.
The rookie forward’s 13 goals makes him just the fourth player in NHL history, and the first in almost a century, to have the first 13 pr more points of his career come via lighting the lamp. Through his first 25 Games Played, he had joined a notable list of his countrymen in Goals Scored.
Most goals – Russian player in their first 25 career NHL Gms:
15- Dmitri Kvartalnov
15- Alex Ovechkin
15- Evgeni Malkin
14- Sergei Nemchinov
13- Nikolai Borschevsky
12- Andrei Kuzmenko
11- #CBJ Kirill Marchenko
11- Alex Kovalev
11- Sergei Fedorov
11- Ilya Kovalchuk#BellLetsTalk pic.twitter.com/FffU6civ1b
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) January 26, 2023
By Michael Fleetwood
That’s the most wholesome thing I’ve seen in quite some time. Kirill is a keeper.
He was totally floored. 😂