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|6 сентября 2006
Ovechkin opening heart, wallet.
Caps star donates $10,000 as new NHL ambassador Right To Play gives disadvantaged kids
Alexander Ovechkin wanted for nothing as a budding hockey star in Russia.
"My dad always buy me whatever I wanted," recalled Ovechkin yesterday. "I remember first stick, Easton silver stick, I was a little boy and it cost like five hundred dollars. I see it and my eyes were like `Omigod, silver stick, I want it. Dad, please, buy me, buy me.' He said `No!'
"Next day, I'm crying. Next day, we got to the shop, he bought me the stick and I practised only two days and it's broken."
The NHL's rookie of the year realizes there are many kids not nearly as fortunate, which is why on a day when fellow Russian wunderkind Evgeni Malkin inked a deal with the Penguins, Ovechkin signed up with a new team of his own. He joined Right To Play yesterday as one of five new NHL athlete ambassadors.
Right To Play is a Toronto-based international humanitarian organization, which brings sport and play programs to children in the most disadvantaged areas in the world.
Ovechkin is inundated with requests but his mother, Tatiana, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Russian women's basketball team, made it clear to her son that this was one he could not pass up.
"My mom and my family said, `You must help the children, you must help the little kids who don't have money, who don't have anything,'" said the Washington Capitals star. "I'm glad. I'm a lucky man. I play in the NHL, I have money. I want to help, I want to give my experience, just help them. In Russia, I know lots of children who don't have anything."
Ovechkin backed up his words by donating the $10,000 (U.S.) he won this summer for being a runner-up for the Lester Pearson Award. Also coming aboard yesterday at a news conference at the Hockey Hall of Fame were Leaf Alexander Steen and defenceman Andrew Ference of the Calgary Flames. Joe Thornton and Matt Pettinger of Washington have also joined but were not in attendance yesterday.
Ference was unique in that he approached Right to Play to offer his services instead of the other way around.
"Let's face it," said Ference. "They have Alexander Ovechkin. I don't think Andrew Ference was next on their list of guys to contact. I knew if I wanted to be involved, I probably had to do the phone calling."
Ference said that a player of Ovechkin's star power will be a boon to an organization looking to raise its profile and more money. There will be a Right To Play night held in each of the rinks in Toronto, Washington and Calgary.
"He's interesting," said Ference of Ovechkin. "He speaks his mind and he's honest. He's intriguing. He's not just a dull guy with great hockey ability."
Ovechkin showed some of that personality yesterday when he touted Malkin as this season's rookie of the year.
"Oh yeah, but if I meet him in the corner ...," he said, with a mischievous grin.
He was asked about the prospect of playing in the same conference as Malkin and Ilya Kovalchuk.
"Kovalchuk, I think is one of the best players in the league. Great shot. Great speed. He's a good friend of mine. Malkin: Tough. Great puck control. Great passer. Me, just a player."
Modesty aside, Ovechkin expects to be a lot more confident and comfortable in his second go-around, which is bound to be bad news for the opposition.
"When I come for first year, I was afraid because I didn't know the people, I didn't know the team, I didn't know the country. My team, my owners, my general manager, they just helped me and I felt like at home. I didn't feel pressure. I hope and I know this year will be the same. My coach trusts me. My teammates trust me."
5 сентября. Superstar winger Ovechkin decides he's
not ready yet for 'C' // Canadian Press
19 июля. Александр Овечкин: "Брашир-кабан, гора мышц,
но он нам так необходим" // "Спорт-Экспресс"
28 апреля. Александр Овечкин: "В Латвии зайду в гости
к Хэнлону" // "Спорт-Экспресс"
15 апреля. Форвард «Вашингтона» Александр Овечкин:
Рига меня ждет // "Советский Спорт"
5 сентября. Superstar winger Ovechkin decides he's not ready yet for 'C' // Canadian Press
19 июля. Александр Овечкин: "Брашир-кабан, гора мышц, но он нам так необходим" // "Спорт-Экспресс"
28 апреля. Александр Овечкин: "В Латвии зайду в гости к Хэнлону" // "Спорт-Экспресс"
15 апреля. Форвард «Вашингтона» Александр Овечкин: Рига меня ждет // "Советский Спорт"