Thursday, January 12, 2006

He's Sasha: The Ovechkin

Both Off Wing Opinion and Japers' Rink talked about this Washington Post article today that outlines performance bonuses rookie phenom Alex Ovechkin is headed for. Ovechkin hasn't just been, arguably, the league's top rookie — he's also one of the NHL's best players. It's the first time in a long time for hockey that a freshman has dominated like he has.

Aside from the number crunching, the thing I love about this article is the scene beat reporter Tarik El-Bashir gives us in the lede:

As Alex Ovechkin walked past a television hanging from the ceiling in the Washington Capitals' practice facility yesterday, he stopped, and his eyes lit up.

"Hey," he said. "It's me. I made Top Five Plays!"

Ovechkin watched a replay of his second-period goal Tuesday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

"Scooooore!" Ovechkin exclaimed, raising his arms over his head.

Ovechkin is great and is going to be great in the future for the NHL for a number of reasons, not the least of which is his personality. It's hard not to root for a kid that loves hockey this much, that leaps that high after scoring every goal and who is revelling in his rookie season so much.

Ovechkin is just radiating charisma so far, and it's fantastic to see. And, even though he doesn't have a perfect grasp of the language, he's still as colourful as anyone in interviews.
"If I win the bonus, I'm glad," Ovechkin said. "If I didn't win this bonus, it's okay. I came here for my dream. If I want money, I could stay in Russia and make three million bucks.

"Money is always money; it's good. So you go to restaurant, you don't have to think about it. So if I win this, I will be happy."

As an aside, there has been a lot said about the Washington Post cutting back on their NHL coverage, but everything I've read from El-Bashir has been a good, solid read. With Ovechkin not being seen in every NHL market this season (a huge marketing blunder, if you ask me), it's accounts like these that fans need to read on-line to learn just what this kid's all about.

His rising star is apparently working for him in his personal life, as well — or at least that's what I gather from the text there.

It might be time for me to add one of these to my collection.



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