THN Yearbook

Lesedauer: ca. 2 Minuten

Auch das bei vielen Eishockeyfans beliebte "Yearbook" der

nordamerikanischen Fachzeitschrift "The Hockey News" ist jetzt

erschienen! Neben Berichten über alle Teams und viele Spieler gibt es

viele weiteren Infos rund um die NHL und die Saison 2006/07:

All Ovechkin, all the time

By: Scott Burnside

After Alexander Ovechkin was named the

NHL’s runaway rookie of the year in Vancouver

last June, Washington Capitals staffers asked the effervescent Russian when he

wanted to head home.

Home? Ovechkin wasn’t going home. He was

staying for the draft. And sure enough, when the Capitals made their early

round selections there was Ovechkin on the stage sporting his own Caps jersey,

arms draped happily around the nervous prospects’ shoulders.

As the seemingly interminable lockout came

to a close, many assumed Sidney Crosby would lead the NHL into the post-lockout

sunshine. Instead – and this is in no way a slight against Crosby, who in many

ways is the perfect foil to Ovechkin – it was the 20-year-old Russian who

helped propel the game forward with his blazing acceleration, lightning shot

and board-rattling bodychecks.

He brought it all and he brought it with a


In the days after the lockout the league

and its players spoke of a more open NHL, of players being more accessible, of

bridging the gap between fans and players, of mending fences. Many players

talked the talk. Ovechkin walks it. Often the Capitals team bus was delayed as

Ovechkin finished up impromptu autograph sessions. When he first arrived in Washington,

communications staff asked him how to say ‘Good morning’ in Russian. Ovechkin

politely declined, saying he was only going to communicate in English. To that

end Ovechkin took English lessons and insisted on an English-speaking roommate

on the road (Brian Willsie).

Later, when staff tried to give him a gift

certificate to a local steakhouse for being so gracious with the fans and

media, Ovechkin declined.

“If people want to talk to me, I talk to

them,” said Ovechkin (in English).

As the season wore on, Ovechkin became more

comfortable chatting and joking with reporters, at one point suggesting it was

more difficult to drive in America

than in Russia

because you couldn’t simply pay off the police.

Lest he be mistaken for a flake, Ovechkin

also has a keen sense of history. During the course of last season Ovechkin

politely asked for and received autographed sticks from Crosby, Zdeno Chara and

Mark Messier. Messier returned the favor by asking Ovechkin for one of the

rookie’s sticks for his own collection.

Of course, all of his personality and

panache amounts to a hill of day-old caviar if the kid can’t play. But that

doesn’t appear to be a problem.

To read the rest of this story and other great features from the world of

hockey, you can buy this issue

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