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High-scoring Ovechkin a virtual lock for Hall of Fame.
26.11.2013. Mendes, Ian. The Vancouver Sun

To borrow a phrase from Mark Twain, the reports of Alexander Ovechkin's demise were greatly exaggerated in the hockey world.

Just a few months ago, a majority of the hockey media dismissed Ovechkin from the conversation about the best players on the planet. To start the lockout-shortened 2013 season, the Washington Capitals winger scored only nine goals in the first 25 games and his career seemed to be on a sharp decline.

He was a shadow of his dynamic self and Ovechkin appeared to be settling in as a consistent, somewhat unspectacular 30-goal scorer. There were whispers and theories about why he lost his ability to dominate, and it was widely accepted that Ovechkin's best days were behind him.

A long-term contract paying him $9.5 million annually until 2021 was seen as a white elephant on the Capitals' payroll. Ted Leonsis and the Capitals were going to be paying the Russian for his past performances, while his future appeared to be fairly bleak.

Then something remarkable happened in the back half of last season. Ovechkin caught

fire in March, and he hasn't cooled off since.

Dating back to last season, Ovechkin has scored 43 goals in his past 45 games, giving him an outside shot for creating his own version of 50 goals in 50 games. The 50-in-50 milestone is one of hockey's most revered accomplishments, but the National Hockey League only recognizes players who score 50 goals in their team's first 50 games.

However, if Ovechkin can score seven goals in his next five games - entirely plausible given his production - then the hockey world should figure out a way to commemorate the feat. In many ways, this is like Tiger Woods creating his own version of golf's Grand Slam by winning four consecutive majors even though he didn't accomplish it in the same calendar year. We ended up referring to it as the Tiger Slam, and it is still widely celebrated as one of the greatest stretches in golf history.

Considering we haven't seen any NHL player score 50 goals in his team's first 50 games since Brett Hull did it for the St. Louis Blues in 1991-92, we should honour Ovechkin's streak as one of the best in the modern era.

Even if Ovechkin isn't able to hit the magical 50-in-50 mark this season, he is on pace for a campaign that should cement his legacy as one of the greatest goal scorers in the history of the game. Ovechkin is projected to score 75 goals this season, but even if he cools off significantly he could still join elite company. Another 60-goal campaign would add Ovechkin to a list of just nine NHLers who have multiple 60-goal seasons in their careers. The other nine are in the Hall of Fame, including the likes of Mike Bossy, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.

Even if Ovechkin's pace slows considerably and he "only" scores 50 goals this season, it would mark the fifth time he has reached that plateau, and that would still put him in the upper echelon of snipers. Only 10 players in league history have had five 50-goal seasons, and all of them are enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Another 50-goal season for Ovechkin would essentially make him a lock for the Hall of Fame no matter where his career goes from here. While that seems like a lofty statement for somebody who has yet to reach their 30th birthday, Ovechkin is going to be guaranteed a spot in the Hall of Fame with the season he is enjoying in 2013-14.

If he scores 50 again this season, Ovechkin would have more 50-goal campaigns than some of the best snipers in league history including Jari Kurri, Luc Robitaille and Michel Goulet. All three of those players are in the Hall of Fame and it seems unfathomable to think Ovechkin would be kept outside the hallowed doors in Toronto with numbers that eclipse some of the best shooters in the modern era.

Speaking of shooting, Ovechkin is on pace for more than 450 shots on goal this season. If he can surpass the 400-shot plateau, he will join Phil Esposito as the only two players in NHL history with four such seasons. Nobody else in league history has had more than one season with 400 shots on goal.

If somebody doesn't figure out how to slow down Ovechkin in the next couple of months, he could add an Olympic gold medal to his resume.

Страничка Александра Овечкина на сайте "Звёзды с Востока"


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