The Washington Capitals’ Alexander Ovechkin is this generation’s greatest goal-scorer, and up on the Mt. Rushmore of all-time snipers. He has 646 goals since entering the NHL in 2005-06, 210 more than Sidney Crosby, who’s next on the list.
But it was an assist that earned Ovechkin his latest milestone. With a helper on T.J. Oshie’s goal against the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 5, he passed Sergei Fedorov for the most points by a Russian-born player in NHL history. Ovechkin earned his 1,180th point in his 1,055th game, 193 fewer than it took Fedorov. That’s one cool thing, here are seven more to make eight for Alexander the GR8:
1. He Comes by His Freakish Athleticism Honestly
Oveckha means “little lamb” in Russian; his family is anything but. Ovechkin’s parents were highly successful athletes in the Soviet sports machine. His mother, Tatyana, won Olympic basketball gold medals in 1976 and 1980 and became head of the Moscow Dynamo women’s basketball team, and his father, Mikhail, played high level soccer. Alex’s brother, Mikhail Jr., didn’t have his famous sibling’s competitive fire but he followed him into sports, working for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics.
When he passed Fedorov, Ovechkin’s parents wrote their son “Sasha” a touching open letter on the NHL’s Russian site.
2. He’s Motivated by Childhood Tragedy
Ovechkin’s older brother, Sergei, introduced him to the game of hockey. When Alexander was 10 years old, a blood clot caused by a car accident killed Sergei. At the same age, Alexander broke a goalpost in half with a shot, which his coach at the time still keeps as a memento.
As Ovechkin grew up in the decadent wild west of post-communist Russia and lost many friends to the streets. “Some are in prison. A lot of them are dead. Drugs and all that crap,” he said. “When you leave school and try to find work, your priorities immediately change. That’s when the drugs get you.” (from “Ovechkin With Love” – GQ – 10/24/10)
Ovechkin’s answer was to pour his abundant energy into hockey, his escape from tragedy and temptation. He left P.S. 596 in early high school to join the Moscow Dynamo academy; it kept him from succumbing to the streets, and eventually allowed him to walk them as a Russian icon and hero.
3. Once a Notorious Playboy, He’s Now Married with a Child
Ovechkin was raised in a working class suburb outside of Moscow. Downtown, having and flashing cash was king, so when he became a millionaire, he spent his newfound riches at Muscovite clubs as Russia’s most-eligible bachelor, as the Russian version of celebrity gossip magazine Tatler called him. He was linked to many of the country’s starlets, including pop star Zhanna Friske. “The papers always say I’m seeing this or that person,” he said when asked about the rumors. “Zhanna and I laugh at this. Like, I was dating this girl once and came to the airport to pick her up. I go to the restroom, she buys the paper. I come out, and she’s like, ‘You a**hole!’ I’m like, ‘What?’ Turns out there’s a picture of me and Zhanna in the paper. I’m like, ‘Calm down.'” (from “Ovechkin With Love” – GQ – 10/24/2010)
But just shy of turning 31 in 2016, Ovechkin married Anastasia Shubskaya, daughter of actress and director Vera Glagoleva and shipbuilder Kirill Shubskiy. They have welcomed their first child, fittingly named Sergei, and born on Aug. 18, 2018 – 08/18/18 – for number 8.
4. He’s Close to the Kremlin
Like some other residents of Washington D.C., Ovechkin is chummy with Russian president Vladimir Putin, another noted sniper. Ovechkin says he has Putin’s home number and the president sent the newlyweds a wedding gift. (from “Alex Ovechkin is one of Putin’s biggest fans. The question is, why?” – The Washington Post – 11/25/17)
In 2017, he announced via Instagram that he was starting a social movement called “Putin Team” to create a strong and united Russia. Asked whether it was political, Ovechkin said, “I just support my country, you know? That’s where I’m from, my parents live there, all my friends. Like every human from different countries, they support their president. It’s not about political stuff.” (from “Alex Ovechkin starts ‘social movement’ supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin” – The Washington Post – 11/02/17)
5. His Parents Are Curators of the Unofficial Alexander Ovechkin Museum
Ovechkin keeps the sticks he’s used to record each milestone behind glass in his Virginian basement, and has a mannequin wearing every piece of equipment he had on when he scored his 500th career goal.
The unofficial Alexander Ovechkin Museum, however, is at the family’s country home, or dacha, outside of Moscow. Outside, where their German Shepherds, including one named “Ovi” run free, the tennis/basketball court is surrounded by oversized Ovechkin advertising banners. (from “The Alex Ovechkin museum already spans two continents and keeps getting bigger,” – The Washington Post – 03/06/18)
Inside is an Ulf Dahlen San Jose Sharks jersey, the first piece of NHL memorabilia his father bought for him, pieces of equipment from his days with Moscow Dynamo, a statue of Ovechkin that Capitals owner Ted Leonsis commissioned during his rookie year, Ovechkin Russian nesting dolls, a painting of him riding a horse while playing the mandolin and countless reminders of his many NHL accomplishments, which continues to grow.
6. He Was a Pittsburgh Penguins Fan
Ovechkin followed the Pittsburgh Penguins because Mario Lemieux was his idol growing up, and the first signed stick he received in the NHL was from the Magnificent One. It was given to him by the Penguins’ equipment manager when he was a rookie, and started his collection of sticks autographed by teammates and rivals, including the Penguins’ Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Ovechkin’s early fandom is ironic considering the Penguins were the thorn in his side that kept him from getting past the second round of the playoffs for so many years, and Crosby has been his main rival since they entered the NHL together. He even developed a feud with old friend Malkin. Perhaps beating the Penguins on the way to the Stanley Cup in 2018 has tempered the bitterness a little.
7. His Stanley Cup Victory Celebrations Were Epic
The enduring narrative of Ovechkin’s career was how he couldn’t win the big one, while Crosby had three Stanley Cups and two Conn Smythe trophies while doing it. That changed in 2018 when Ovechkin was named playoff MVP after leading the Capitals to the franchise’s first championship. His celebrations were historic in scale and social media exposure.
Ovechkin was handed the Cup in Las Vegas after beating the Vegas Golden Knights, where the bender began. The team brought it to Hakkasan nightclub, leaving around 5 a.m. Back home he threw out the first pitch at a Washington Nationals game before doing a keg stand with the Cup and taking it for a swim in a fountain in Georgetown.
Ovechkin later brought it to The Tonight Show, where fun boy Jimmy Fallon imitated his keg stand, and took it on a pub crawl through Washington, introducing it to Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner at Cafe Milano. He barbecued and slept with it at his home in Virginia and showed it a good time around Moscow, including Russia’s victory over Spain at the World Cup, Red Square, Moscow Dynamo’s training center and his childhood home.
NHL policy states that each team gets the Stanley Cup for 100 days before they have to hand it back. Ovechkin maxed out his time, possibly stealing a bit from teammates, but after so many years of frustration, can you really blame him?