Washington, D.C. – As the finals seconds of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals melted away, the scoreboard at the T-Mobile Arena read Washington 4 Las Vegas 3 and two things were certain. The Capitals had just won their first Stanley Cup Championship and Alex Ovechkin, the greatest goal scorer of his generation and one of the best of all time could finally silence a small portion, of the hockey world who still refused to believe how good he really is.
Coming into this his 13th year in the league he had doubters despite a resume that included, three Hart Trophies as the league MVP, four gold medals in international play, seven “Rocket” Richard Trophies as the league’s leading goal scorer, and the nine NHL All-Star Games.
The NHL has made him along with Sidney Crosby, the Bird vs. Magic of hockey and the duo has not disappointed.
But while Crosby has been the “Golden Child,” of the hockey media Ovechkin has been wrongly cast as “The Brooding Russian,” in this made for TV rivalry. No one questions Crosby’s ability or his resume that includes three Stanley Cups, two Conn Smythes, two Olympic gold medals, a world championship and a pair of Hart Trophies.
Analysts like the CBC Hockey Night in Canada’s Don Cherry and NBC’s Mike Milbury, to name a few were critical of Ovechkin’s inability to get his team past the second round of the NHL playoffs. In many ways casting his as not on the same level as Crosby, which of course is both wrong and disrespectful.
Few gave him any credit for being the face of a dynasty in Washington where in the past ten years the Capitals have been the best regular season team in the league claiming seven division championships and three President’s Cups.
During the second round of the playoffs while speaking to the media Washington head coach Barry Trotz was asked about Crosby and Ovechkin.
“They come from different social backgrounds and different countries and all that, but what you find is they recognize their importance to the game and their franchises,” said Trotz, who worked with Crosby as an assistant for Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey 2016. “I see that in how they carry themselves for those franchises and for their countries. They’re very proud of both. That’s one thing I can tell that I learned with [Crosby]. … He’s a true pro. He cares about people, cares about winning, cares about his country. Those are the same things I say about [Ovechkin].
“So sometimes the perception is that they’re totally opposite, but there’s a lot of similarities to them. That’s why they’re both great.”
Two different players that play two different styles of play. Alex Ovechkin, the hard-hitting, a sniper with a wicked slapshot facing the always under control Crosby, uses his head to find ways to score from in close.
In Washington they love the man they call “Ovie or The Great 8,” and he loves them back. He always has time to sign an autograph, take a selfie with a fan or show up normally with Nick Backstrom and other teammates at a Wizards game or over at Nationals Park to take some batting practice, then hang around to watch the game.
Ovie has been a member of the Washington community and has served as a wonderful ambassador for the NHL. Now perhaps those few critics will shut-up and appreciate why in Washington he is called “The Great 8.”