By Robert Fulton, OnTap Magazine, Sept. 2008
The Washington, DC metro area's magazine for music, entertainment, nightlife and culture.
Alex Ovechkin Has Made Hockey a Must See in D.C.
Face of the Franchise (Photo by: Aaron Clamage)
Alexander Ovechkin, the 23-year-old superstar who hails from Russia but now plays for the Washington Capitals, is a riddle. Either because of fatigue or distraction, a recent interview was short. He has a new clothing line, but not a lot to say about it. He likes to read, but won’t say what. He enjoys the atmosphere of D.C., but likes to stay home and relax. Due to his $124 million, 13-year contract (the richest in NHL history), he’s one of the most handsomely paid players in the NHL, but chooses to live in the Arlington neighborhood of Ballston. Though he has enough money that he could open his own haircut franchise, he now is a spokesperson for the Hair Cuttery, stemming from a time he got a trim at a location in Ballston.
One thing that is clear, however, is that Ovechkin, with his big smile and overall good-natured rep, is the face of the Capitals franchise
“I would think so,” said Darren Montgomery, the Capitals Director of Sales, when asked if Ovechkin is the face of the franchise. “His contract states that without stating it. If you ask anyone on the street to name a player, he’s the one.”
Ovechkin’s reach is more than just hockey.
“Alex has done a tremendous amount for the Washington Capitals on and off the ice,” said Ted Leonsis, Capitals majority owner, in a prepared statement. “He is an outstanding young man and a true ambassador for our team, our sport and our great city. Winning is what drives him, and the energy and excitement he displays is contagious. We saw that with his teammates and the fans during our race to the division championship last year. Alex is a magnetic figure, someone who we are proud to have at the center of our franchise, and we look forward to even greater success — for him and the team — in the future.”
The Washington Capitals selected Ovechkin with the first overall choice in the 2004 early draft, and played his first season in 2005-2006.
Last year was Ovechkin’s breakout season. He won four individual trophies: the Rocket Richard and Art Ross trophies, the Pearson Trophy as the top player as voted by the NHL Players Association and the league MVP Hart Memorial Trophy. All of this was in a year the Caps made a trip to the first round of the 2008 playoffs.
Ovechkin’s level of play, and the Caps’ ultimate success, has increased the team’s fan base.
“Now casual fans know who he is,” said Darren. “It’s not all because of him, but we’ve sold 4,000 new full season tickets.”
While the Caps have a rich history, the city has never seen a hockey player of Ovechkin’s stature.
“No, there’s hasn’t been,” said Montgomery. “Celebrity is hard to quantify, [but] there’s been no one with his [overall] skill level.”
After the “Crazy Eights Skills Session,” a youth hockey community service event at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in September, Ovechkin fielded some questions.
On what he likes about D.C.: “I like the atmosphere. I like to stay in my house and relax. Go out sometimes.”
On why he chooses to live in Ballston, instead of a swanky penthouse in D.C.: “I like Arlington. [The practice rink] is a two-minute drive.”
On the upcoming presidential election: “I have no idea.”
He did reveal that he drives a Mercedes S Class and likes to spend time at clubs, especially Russia House, Ibiza and Play.
When asked what he bought after signing the record contract back in January, Ovechkin responded “Nothing. I’m still the same.”
Still the same. Just young, single, rich and one of the best hockey players on the planet.
WHAT $124,000,000 CAN BUY YOU
In January of 2008, Alexander Ovechkin signed a 13-year, $124 million contract, the richest in the history of the NHL.
What can someone buy with $124 million?
248,000,000 glasses of Miller High Life at 5 p.m. on Saturday at Asylum in Adams Morgan
33,243,967 gallons of regular gas (at $3.74 gallon on Sept. 22)
4,771,065 bottles of Stolichnaya Vodka 100 Proof from www.bevmo.com (not including shipping).
3,179,487 dozen cupcakes from Cakelove ($39 dozen)
659,574 premium single game Caps tickets ($188 per)
354 three-acre islands off the coast of Florida ($350,100 listing on eBay)