Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin is 36 years old, a Stanley Cup and has played 1,239 regular season games, but he still has a passion for his sport and remains motivated to win hockey games, while getting closer of the mark of the most goals scored in a career.
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National League (NHL) player with 29 goals this season, tied with New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider, the Russian sticks first and foremost to pleasure. This is one of the reasons why he continues to fill the opposing nets regularly and allow the “Caps” to accumulate their fair share of points in the standings.
“I guess I still have fun. I still think I love hockey. I love being on the ice and off to hang out with this group of guys. I think that’s the most important aspect,” he told NHL.com last weekend.
His chief instructor Peter Laviolette is well placed to corroborate his statements.
“He loves sports and being part of the team. He shows up and trains hard every day. I never had to say that his session was not good enough or that he is the leader and must set the tone. He trains hard daily. He loves hockey and it shows during the games, he explained. He is clearly visible, he loves winning, scoring goals and making a difference. It’s great. When someone can deploy this passion, it is very special.”
Ovechkin and his teammates seem as determined to overcome obstacles as they have in recent months, be it COVID-19 or injuries. The number 8 has also been struggling with an upper body problem recently, which did not prevent him from collecting eight points in seven games. Passionate as he is, it will take a lot to put him out of action.
“Right now, I feel much better. Certainly those days off or optional sessions have helped everyone, not just me. You see the number of injuries we have and the COVID-19 situation. We have a group of experienced players who know how to control their bodies and that’s the most important thing,” he said.
Claiming 759 NHL goals (before Monday’s duel against the Vegas Golden Knights), Ovechkin is also the only Capitals player to have played in every team game in 2021-22 so far.
“He started strong and the year he is having should come as no surprise to people,” said Laviolette. You’re talking about a man who made his living scoring goals, acting as a leader and helping this franchise maintain a high level of play to achieve success. He was at the forefront of that.”