I learned about number 8 by reading about him months before
he stepped foot on the ice for the Washington
Capitals. As a long suffering Caps fan, I could not imagine Washington
being a destination for a generational player, but that is exactly what Caps
fans have witnessed, 10-years of a generational player’s career to become only
the 43rd person in NHL history to score 500 goals. From his first two
goal, shattered glass game against the Columbus Blue Jackets through his next
498 goals, the joy of watching Alex Ovechkin
has never faded.
Ovie’s smash mouth hockey, combined with his sniper’s
ability to shoot and score highlight reel goals and his infectious celebrations
when he or his teammates scores make him unique. He still draws amazed gasps in
my household on a frequent basis. There will never be another Washington
Capital like him in my lifetime.
Three of my favorite goals and why:
The goal – because I stood up in the
room where I watched that goal saying over and over again “He meant to do that.”
That and Wayne Gretzky’s face and
slight smile made me optimistic for that generational label.
The February 29, 2009 goal against
the Montreal Canadiens – the one where Ovie slid around Roman Hamrlik and bounced the puck back to himself off the wall,
caught the puck, and got tripped up by Kyle
Chipchura, slide across the ice to chip it past Carey Price. That was the most impressive goal I’ve seen.
#499 – the overtime game winning goal
versus the goalie that has been punished the most by Ovie, Henrik Lundqvist (see an Ovie stats article
on nhl.com), had everything. Great saves by both goalie Braden Holtby and blue liner Nate
Schmidt and Ovie’s around Holtby’s net, coast-to-coast sprint ending in
making a Ryan McDonagh look silly by
using him as a screen and getting the puck in the net is vintage Ovie.
In 2010, I took a trip to see the Hockey Hall of Fame in
Toronto and watch hockey in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa and got to see Ovie’s
appeal to Canadian fans of the game. From his ubiquitous presence in the Hall
of Fame for his three trophies at that time – the Richard, the Lester B.
Pearson and the Hart – and his world juniors appearance in 2005, where he won
the honor of being the best forward is also in Toronto to the Ovechkin jersey
appearances in each city I visited, Ovie was everywhere. Most Canadians I
talked to wished he played for their team, but one thought Ovie was the best
player in the world.
In the Caps game versus Montreal on the 2010 trip, Ovie got
two assists and had a monster hit on Hal Gill, the 6’7, 241 lb. defenseman that
pushed him into Carey Price’s net. Classic Ovie. I look forward to continued unexpected highlight reel moments from one of the greatest scorers to ever play the game.
Let’s go Caps!
Labels: Alex Ovechkin, NHL, Washington Capitals