Alex Ovechkin will be the captain of Team Russia at the World Cup, the Russian Ice Hockey Federation announced on Wednesday. Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk will serve as alternate captains.
Ovechkin, 30, last served as captain for Russia at the 2014 IIHF World Championship when he helped lead his country to a gold medal at the tournament. Ovechkin will be playing in his second World Cup tournament, as he was a member of Team Russia during the last World Cup held in 2004. At that time, the then-19-year old had yet to make his NHL debut.
Ovechkin turns 31 on Sept. 17– the opening day of World Cup play — and enters the tournament as a 500-goal scorer and one of just three players with seven or more 50-goal seasons in NHL history. He has been the captain of the Washington Capitals since Jan. 5, 2010, when he was just 24-years old. After scoring 50 goals during the 2015-16 NHL regular season, Ovechkin now turns his attention towards representing his country at the eight-team international tournament.
Malkin, 30, enters the World Cup after helping the Pittsburgh Penguins to the team’s second Stanley Cup in seven years in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final. Malkin has been an alternate captain for the Penguins since 2008-09. He and Ovechkin have been forever linked as each climbed the ranks of Russian hockey together before being chosen back-to-back in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
Datsyuk, 38, was an assistant captain for Russia at the 2014 Winter Olympics and wore an “A” in Detroit before leaving the Red Wings earlier this offseason to return home to Russia. Datsyuk currently plays for SKA St. Petersburg in the Kontinental Hockey League.
The World Cup will take place at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1.