Ovie Update

My friend Dmitry Chesnokov translated this interview with Washington left wing Alexander Ovechkin from the Wednesday issue of Sovetsky Sport.

Washington Forward Alex Ovechkin: Krikunov Wanted to Fine Me
by Pavel Lysenkov

Yesterday SovSport decided to call Alex Ovechkin and caught him in an unusual situation – the Caps star was in a car driving to the wedding of his friend Ilya Nikulin.

MY WEDDING IS NOT FAR AWAY
– I have come back to Moscow already, – Alex says – On Monday I skated with Dynamo reserves. I missed Tuesday’s skating session because I had to go to the Canadian Embassy. I was submitting all documents for a year-long Canadian visa. I can’t play in the NHL without it. People from the club called me to specifically remind me to obtain the visa. For example, on September 30th we will play Ottawa in a preseason game. Won’t it be a shame if I have to miss that game because of problems with my passport? But right now I am on my way to my friend’s wedding [Nikulin played with Ovechkin for Dynamo Moscow, but now is an AK Bars player].

What are you bringing as a wedding gift?

– Actually he pretty much has everything … I had to think hard about the present. In the end I decided to get Ilya and his fiancee Katya a nice set of travel bags and suitcases for them to take them on their trips. I hope the newlyweds will like the present.

When is your wedding?

– It is interesting that this offseason this is the second wedding I am attending. In April my childhood friend Misha Batanov got married. It was the day after the Kharlamov Trophy 2007 ceremony. Now I am on my way to Ilya’s wedding where I am the Best Man again. It looks like my wedding will take place soon! But I don’t make predictions. I like everything the way it is now. I am a free man. I look at married people from the sidelines. Right now I am happy for Ilya and Katya. What a wonderful couple! I wish them eternal love and all the best!

MAYBE I WILL BE BACK IN ST PETERSBURG
Let’s get back to hockey. Why did you decide to train with Dynamo and not SKA? Right now Viktor Kozlov, Andrei Nikolishin, Sergei Gonchar and Evgeni Malkin are all training with SKA.

– To be honest I didn’t leave the training camp for good. I am only back in Moscow for my friend’s wedding. I will be here until Wednesday. But I still need to see what kind of training methods Barry Smith uses. I have completed the basics of the physical training. Now there is only on-ice training left. I can even skate with Dynamo in Novogorsk [Dynamo’s training facility], as well as keeping fit at the gym. I don’t know yet when I get back to Washington. But I keep my training plan handy just in case I have to go to North America immediately, to continue workouts there. I feel that I am in a great shape coming into this season. When I started skating with Dynamo’s reserves I felt like I never left the ice even though I had a three month break.

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Did you speak with anyone from the first team [Ovechkin grew up playing for Dynamo]?

– I visited the team locker room, talked with Sergei Vyshedkevich, said hello to Vladimir Krikunov [Dynamo’s coach]. He jokingly told me: “Ovechkin, you must be fined for being late!”

Was he talking about training with “containers”? [long story … about the containers]

– No, he meant money. So we talked, joked and laughed. I have kept good relationships with everyone at Dynamo. I got a little sense of nostalgia, when I walked around the training facility [that is] so dear to me. A lot of things changed for the better. For example, the team museum expanded with new items. But the main thing is that the same people are still working there. I was met with lots of kindness and open arms.

Maybe you should come back to the Superleague?

– I didn’t think about that. I have a contract with Washington.

OUR YOUNG PLAYERS ARE NO WORSE THAN CANADIANS
This August another series of games between junior Russian and Canadian teams will take place. Can you give us your prediction?

– Even though I guessed that Anaheim would win this year’s Stanley Cup, I am really bad at predictions … I can say one thing: it will be tough. I wish our guys all the best!

Do you have the feeling that our youth is much worse than their Canadian counterparts lately?

– Why? We still win international junior tournaments competing with Canada. I don’t think one should pay a lot of attention to the 0:5 and 1:6 [losses] in the last two finals of World Junior Championships to Canada. It goes both ways: sometimes they beat us, sometimes we beat them. The Canadians are not better than us.

And if we revived the series between Team Canada and Team Russia, would you participate?

– I didn’t think about that. The NHL preseason schedule could be on the way of such series. Contracts and insurance will have to be taken into account. But on a different side, such games have their prestige. All players who participated in the ’72 series are now a part of history.

[Russian Hockey Federation] has yet again won their court case against Mezin. [Andrei Mezin is a goalkeeper for Salavat Yulaef, who is a Russian citizen, but who played for Team Belarus making him ineligible to play for Team Russia. The Russian Hockey Federation passed a ruling that every goaltender ineligible to play for Russia is to be considered a “foreign” player. There is a limit on “foreign” players in the Superleague. Each team would have to pay a big fine to field a “foreign” goaltender. The ruling is meant to prevent foreign goaltenders from coming to Russia and to force teams develop young Russian goaltenders. Mezin, being Russian, sued the Federation claiming his constitutional rights to work in hi home country are being violated] What do you think about the “Goalies’ Case?”

– I don’t want to take sides in this situation. Yes, I feel terrible for the guys. I know Vitaliy Eremeev very well [Eremeev’s story is identical to Mezin. Eremeev is Dynamo Moscow’s best goaltender who has been with the club forever and won two championships with them in 2000 and 2005. Eremeev played for Team Kazakhstan]. He played for Dynamo his whole life. So what that he [also] has a Kazakh passport? I don’t think we have a problem with homegrown goalies. They play well at the Worlds. And as for the small number of goaltenders to choose from – we need to improve our [hockey] schools, and have teams trust our young guys more and not buy veteran Canadians. For example, Simeon Varlamov gets to play for Lokomotiv, and he is improving, he is showing his class. Next season, by the way, he will spend in the Superleague and not in Washington.

photo by Pavel Lysenkov

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2 Comments on “Ovie Update”

  1. doug Says:

    This is another good interview. Ovie is serious about his conditioning and the upcoming hockey season. Sounds like his bachelor days may be numbered, though.


  2. […] Ovie Update My friend Dmitry Chesnokov translated this interview with Washington left wing Alexander Ovechkin from the Wednesday […] […]


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