Washington Capitals captain and left-winger Alex Ovechkin is not only one of the most aggressive hockey players in the NHL, he’s also regarded as one of the greatest players to have ever graced the ice.
In addition to his first-ever Stanley Cup championship in 2018, Ovechkin reached another milestone earlier this year on February 5, passing Sergei Fedorov for the most points by a Russian-born player in NHL history. He earned his 1,180th point in 193 fewer games than it took his fellow countryman.
At 35 years old, the 2005-06 NHL Rookie of the Year has made a name for himself among fans and players. Here’s five facts about the Capitals’ star player that may just blow your mind.
His Brother’s Death Motivated His Hockey Dominance
Alex’s older brother, Sergei, introduced him to the sport of hockey at a young age. When Alex was just 10 years old, Sergei died from a blood clot he developed as a result of a car accident.
Learning how to cope with the loss, Alex turned to hockey. His coach at the time said Ovechkin once broke a goalpost in half due to the pain of losing his brother. To this day, Alex’s coach has the broken post as a memento.
As his friends succumbed to the temptations of the streets of post-communist Russia, Ovechkin poured all his energy into becoming the best hockey player the country has ever produced.
He left high school early and joined Moscow Dynamo of the Russian Superleague. He was eventually selected first overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. The rest is history.
He Grew Up a Pittsburgh Penguins Fan
Believe it or not, Ovechkin grew up cheering for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Not only was Mario Lemieux his hockey idol, but Ovechkin’s first signed stick from an NHL player was from the “Magnificent One.” It started his collection of autographed sticks, which includes rivals Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Prior to the Capitals’ first Stanley Cup victory in franchise history, the Penguins had been Ovechkin’s “thorn in the side” that kept the Russian from securing Lord Stanley’s cup. Crosby has been Ovechkin’s main rival since entering the NHL together. The irony is quite intriguing.
His Stanley Cup Celebrations Are Monumental
While Ovechkin quickly became one of the league’s best hockey players, many wondered if he would ever hoist the coveted Stanley cup. Putting those doubts to rest in 2018, Ovechkin’s championship celebrations have been monumental to say the least.
First, he took the Cup to Hakkasan nightclub in Las Vegas after defeating the Knights at home in Game 5. Once he returned to his home in Virginia, he threw out the first pitch at a National’s game before performing a keg stand with the Cup. He then took it for a swim in a fountain in Georgetown.
To top things off, he barbecued and slept with it at his home and then took it to Moscow where he celebrated Russia’s victory over Spain at the FIFA World Cup. He also took the Cup to Red Square and the Moscow Dynamo’s training center.
He is Extremely Close to the Kremlin
Similar to how residents of Washington D.C. are close to leading government officials, Ovechkin rubs elbows with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Not only does Ovechkin have Putin’s personal phone number, but he’s one of the Russian president’s biggest fans. Putin even sent Ovechkin and his wife a wedding gift after they were married.
In 2017, Ovechkin announced on social media that he was launching a movement dubbed “Putin Team” to develop a strong and united Russia.
When asked if the campaign 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.”