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24 января 2009 гоа. 
Capitals' Ovechkin has the personality to match his golden game // Newsday

Mark Herrmann. 

When Washington officials gave him the key to the city last June, Alexander Ovechkin immediately made this pronouncement: "There will be no speeding tickets in the city today because there is no speed limit."

That might well be the emblem for the Capitals forward's career. There's no stopping or slowing him. That he was not elected by fans to start in Sunday night's All-Star Game was not even a speed bump.

Apparently, having his team in first place, owning a 13-year contract worth $124 million and being last year's MVP, current top goal-scorer and arguably the greatest hockey player on Earth are some consolation.

Also, there is the fact that he gets to go to the rink every day. No small matter for a guy who likes the whole idea so much that he has been known to skate before practice with the Zamboni.

"I don't know what he was like as a teenager," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said, "but he sure loves the game now."

Ovechkin will be the one darting around the ice in Montreal on Sunday night like a giddy teenager, and a Mack truck. He has the elan of a kid, the skills of an old pro and the mean streak of a pit bull. He has personality galore, which makes it odd that he sometimes gets overlooked because he supposedly doesn't have any.

Granted, it is not easy for a non-North American to become a sports icon over here, but give the 23-year-old from Moscow time. It took him a few years, but he has given the once-moribund Capitals his zest for life.

"He raises the bar. He wants people to play as hard as him," said Boudreau, whose team is 12 points ahead in the Southeast Division. "You go out there and you watch how hard he plays, how can you not want to play with that passion and that intensity?"

It's not just the passion and intensity but the way they mesh with his unique talent. Senators coach Craig Hartsburg said Ovechkin reminds him of a young Mark Messier. Rangers broadcaster and alumnus Dave Maloney said Ovechkin is like Bryan Trottier, with an extra step.

He will be on the ice plenty in the All-Star Game, especially in light of the absence of Sidney Crosby, his fellow young superstar to whom he often is compared (although it is said that his real rivalry is with countryman Evgeni Malkin, Crosby's Penguins teammate).

Ovechkin is not the proverbial face of the NHL, but he is part of its quirky charm, its backbone, its fleet feet. When he was asked this past week about his stature, he said: "My place? Normal place. I wouldn't put me on top of everybody. I'm just trying to do the best I can, trying to help the team. Like I always do. I play hard all the time. Just try, try, try. We never give up."

Then he segued into a riff on the Capitals.

With both goals in a 2-1 win over the Islanders at the Coliseum on Monday, he became the outright goals leader for the first time this season with 31.

"It happens. I give a little bit of a chance to different guys," Ovechkin said.

You see, he always lets you know that he's pulling your leg while making it clear he gets a kick out of being asked what he thinks. When he was interviewed on his intricate strategy against a goalie he never has seen before, such as the Islanders' Yann Danis, Ovechkin said, "Just shoot as hard as I can."

He always shoots from the hip. Here's hoping that Madison Avenue discovers it, along with fans who do online All-Star voting for the next 13 years.

As for the debate about who is better, Crosby or Ovechkin, the pertinent answer is each of them is one of a kind. Thank goodness.

Страничка Александра Овечкина на сайте "Звёзды с Востока"


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