From the moment Alexander Ovechkin was drafted No. 1 overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, it was clear that he was destined for a great career. From his rookie year in 2005 to the present, Ovi has been known as one of the best players in NHL history. His ability to score goals is second to none, and his superstardom has helped push hockey in Washington, DC.
Unfortunately, he’s received plenty of criticism for failing to win a Stanley Cup. Questions on his style of play, leadership ability, and failure to succeed in the postseason plagued him throughout his career. When the Capitals closed out the Golden Knights in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final Thursday night, it not only ended years of heartache for the fanbase in DC, it took Ovechkin off the dreaded list of “Best players to never win a title.”
Finally, a Stanley Cup
After an agonizing career that saw Ovechkin and the Capitals fail to make it past the second round in nine trips to the Stanley Cup playoffs, 2018 was finally the year things changed.
For years, Ovechkin had to hear how he’s not a leader and can’t lead a team to the big win. NBC Sports hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick was very critical of Ovechkin’s style during the 2014-15 season. Roenick said what a lot of fans had been posting on message boards for years.
The numbers don’t lie — when the postseason hit, Ovechkin and his team couldn’t rise to the occasion.
Finally, this past postseason was different. After the disappointment of another second-round loss to the Penguins last year, Ovechkin recommitted himself to getting into hockey shape and being ready for the postseason.
There were certainly some bumps along the way for the Capitals during their fantastic run, but Ovechkin did an excellent job of leading the team. From guaranteeing a win after dropping the first two games to the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 2 to stepping up his physical game and blocking shots, Ovechkin did it all this postseason.
He was the postseason leader with 15 goals and finished second to teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov with 27 assists. He scored three goals in the five games of the Stanley Cup Final, including one in the Cup-clinching Game 5 victory.
The Capitals’ captain was clearly locked in and engaged throughout the entire postseason run. For that reason, the Capitals were finally able to capture Lord Stanley’s Cup.
A Decorated NHL Career
Before this year’s playoffs even started, Ovechkin was a very decorated NHL player. Now, the Stanley Cup, and the Conn Smythe, which he was awarded for being the MVP of the postseason, will add to his legacy. The awards that Ovechkin has won over his career are almost too many to count.
He’s participated in nine All-Star games and was a part of three Presidents’ Trophy-winning teams. He also won several competitions while at the All-Star Weekend, including the Hardest Shot in 2018.
Ovechkin has three Hart Memorial Trophies to his credit for being the league’s MVP and won the Calder Memorial Trophy after the 2005-06 season for Rookie of the Year. He also has an Art Ross Trophy to his credit for leading the league in points. This season, at age 32, he scored a league-high 49 goals to capture his seventh Rocket Richard Trophy.
Aside from all of the awards, not surprisingly, Ovechkin’s name is etched in the NHL record book. He holds the NHL record with five seasons of at least 10 game-winning goals. He also has the most overtime goals (20), including the fastest overtime goal (6 seconds).
His 607 goals in the regular season ranks 19th in the history of the NHL.
If there was ever a doubt about how great of a player Alexander Ovechkin is, there should be none of that now. Whenever he decides to end his career, he’ll go down as one of the best players in NHL history.
Barry is the site expert at Victory Bell Rings, covering Penn State football, hockey and basketball. He’s also written about the NHL for RotoWire, Bleacher Report and FanSided. An avid hockey fan, he’s been a Washington Capitals supporter for most of his life.