Hockey is a great sport. It combines speed, skill, and grit to form the most action packed game on earth. When most people think of hockey they imagine Canada, tooth-less men, and Miracle. When I think of hockey I imagine a tooth-less guy, yes, but he also happens to have a crooked nose from having broken it so many times, be the best player in the NHL, and the craziest Russian in hockey. Alexander Ovechkin. [Александр Михайлович Овечкин]
According to an article on NHL.com, the 'Russian school' of hockey is "predicated on finesse, speed and passing." Russian hockey before the 1980's was very respected (and almost feared). Players focused on meticulous moves and abilities rather than actually scoring. Perfection was key.
In 2005, (after being drafted 1st overall in 2004, the lock-out canceled the season) Ovechkin made his debut in October. He made his presence known immediately by scoring 2 of the 3 goals that led to the team's 3-2 win. If you mention "The Goal" to anyone who follows hockey, they know exactly what you are talking about. In January of 2006, Ovechkin made the most memorable goal in the history of the NHL. While playing the Coyotes (and then coach, Wayne Gretzky) he was tripped. As he slid on his back, head first toward the goal, he hooked the puck around his head right past the goalie. Through his five seasons in the league Ovi, as he is affectionately know by teammates and fans, has racked up more honors than most players can imagine.
He was the first player in the history of the NHL to sweep all 4 major individual awards in one season, get name to the All-Star Team every season of his career (5), and win the Kharlamov Trophy (given to the best Russian player in the NHL as voted by all Russians) five consecutive times, just to name a few. He isn't even 25 yet.
Ovechkin's big presence on the ice isn't just his personality. He is 6'2 and around 240 lbs. During the Olympics, Ovechkin's hit on Jaromir Jagr became a highlight favorite. Jagr had a concussion. Most Russians were taught to be fast and graceful and unemotional on the ice, but Ovi is anything but unemotional. It's not uncommon to see him throw himself into the plexiglass after scoring a goal or jumping wildly into a group of his teammates. This has gained him a vast following, but also negative publicity. People who still believe in the older, traditional forms of hockey believe Ovi is a nuisance to the sport, but he could care less what they think. The best way to sum him up is through a quote by his teammate, Brooks Laich, “He’s crazy, he’s wild, he’s fun. He doesn’t shave, he’s missing a tooth, his hair’s all over the place but, somehow, the girls, they just keep coming to him!”
He's just as great off the ice. He has his own charity, 'Ovi's Crazy 8s" in which he raises money for under-privliged youth of DC, donates eight ice-level seats to families with military parents overseas, AND donates to orphanages in Russia, especially around Moscow where he is from. He's been the cover athlete for 2 video games, name-dropped by multiple rappers, been given the Key to the City for DC, drives expensive cars, parties like crazy, & was featured in an E:60 segment. It's hard not to love the guy!
(Both were Noel Kreger & Zach Cole)