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|22 октября 2006
Caps' Ovechkin set to soar as sophomore // South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Alexander Ovechkin received fan mail from outer space this week. It was an autographed photo from fellow Russian Mikhail Tyurin, a cosmonaut living on the International Space Station.
"Thanks for your beautiful play," Tyurin wrote.
The Capitals' 21-year-old winger sent back a signed a picture of himself -- "Good Luck and God Bless" -- and videotaped a message with a camera crew from NASA TV.
Welcome to Ovechkin's galaxy, where his celebrity has reached celestial heights after just one NHL season. As a rookie, Ovechkin won the Calder Trophy with 52 goals and 54 assists. That was just the start.
This offseason, he played his first round of golf ever and got a hole-in-one. He threw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Nationals game, a strike right over the plate, and sprinkled a few line drives to the outfield during batting practice. He was selected for the cover of EA Sports' NHL '07 video game. He traveled to France, Cyprus and Turkey, as well as his native Moscow.
"My summer was unbelievable," Ovechkin said. "After a great year and hard year, I relaxed well."
Now comes the hard part: ensuring he isn't a shooting star that fades. Through six games this season, Ovechkin had three goals and three assists while facing constant double teams, a trend that started late last season. There are doubts Ovechkin will be as proficient as last season.
"Before everybody starts thinking that everyone's got the hang of him, they all better be pretty careful, because he's a pretty determined guy and I think at the end it's going to work out for him," Capitals coach Glen Hanlon said.
Ovechkin isn't bothered by the defensive attention.
"They don't know what I'm going to do," Ovechkin said. "And when I go to the ice, I don't know what I'm going to do. Nobody can say I'll go out to the ice right now and score three goals.
"Sometimes people say, `OK, he's the best player in the world. He must prove it all the time.' My goal this year is to try to score 50 goals, but to try to score goals and help the team win. I know I can score, I know I can play physical, do something to help the team."
With opponents focusing on Ovechkin, countryman Alexander Semin, a second-line winger, scored seven goals in his first six games.
"We keep saying, `Look, Ovie, if they want to stack up on our top line,
maybe it's going to be Semin that's going to get three goals one night
and you're not going to be the one," Hanlon said. "He's fine with that.
He said before the season, it's better for me to score 40 and make the
playoffs than score 60 and not make the playoffs and he believes it."
5 октября. Александр Овечкин: "52 гола меня устроят"
3 октября. Ovechkin raises Capitals' profile //
5 сентября. Superstar winger Ovechkin decides he's
not ready yet for 'C' // Canadian Press
5 октября. Александр Овечкин: "52 гола меня устроят" // "Спорт-Экспресс"
3 октября. Ovechkin raises Capitals' profile // Associated Press
5 сентября. Superstar winger Ovechkin decides he's not ready yet for 'C' // Canadian Press