Great Pavel Lysenkov is at his best again, a humongous interview with Ovechkin at SovSport.ru.
If you don't know yet, he did "Alex Ovechkin's love Story", about Sasha and Katja, the most read post about Ovechkin on this blog. Thank you, Pavel! (Whatever happen to Katja, any clue?)
I don't even know where and how to start. I divided it into 4 pieces, trimmed them and will do part by part.
Are you surprised that Vancouver's Henrik Sedin is the leading scorer?
Sedin has always played well. Why not to lead the league in points? But I consider myself a perfectionist and I'll definitely try to beat him in the scoring race. I actually thought that the race will be between Malkin and myself. He's took the title last year.
Now he is criticized for poor performance.
You'll see, he'll get better. Malych (Malkin) is in a slump because Penguins ate hockey for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Two years in a row they were in the Stanley Cup finals. They accumulated a psychological fatigue. When you win the Stanley Cup, you don't want anything for a while.
Is it maybe for the better that Malkin hit the bottom right now?
I think so too. Let him peak at the Olympics.
And how many days a hockey player need to bring himself to a top shape for such a tournament? For example swimmers must train for a couple of months.
I don't count the days. You just start to try to rest more, work more intensively in the gym. Everybody has its own way to get to the peak form. In a nutshell: abstinence, abstinence, abstinence.
Will your Mom and Dad go to Vancouver?
Only my brother and my friend Kostja will go. You can't be distracted at the Olympics. I've got a simple schedule there. Wake up, work out, play the game, eat dinner and sleep tight in the village. If parents would come to Vancouver, I'll start to bother about seeing them, giving them attention. But the Olympics will last for less than two weeks. Maybe it will be the most important 12 days in my career, who knows? For that time you'll have to be ascetic.
Malkin doesn't really score much, and you spill out your energy too much. Aren't you afraid that you'll fart around and spend all your emotion on the eve of Vancouver games?
Hockey is not about one person but about a team. If I won't be able to score, then Malkin, Semin, Kovalchuk will score. The main thing is to start the tournament in the right shape. If they will start to repeat at every corner that Ovechkin in a stupor, let them. If we'll win, it doesn't matter.
At the end of that game against the Toronto there were a couple of fights. How fights in the NHL are different from the KHL?
There are no teams with tough guys in Russia with the exception of Chekhov Vityaz. But that team is specialized on that.
Have you seen Chekhov's carnage on the Internet?
And what do you think?
Not much! Jagr said it right, I read it in the Sovietsky sport, "No way this could happen in NHL." There are very strict rules here. Right now our coach have to pay 10 thousand dollars.
For nothing. In the last 5 minutes of the game in Toronto Chimera had a fight. The referees felt that our player initiated. And according to the league rules our coach was punished for that.
But Bruce Boudreau said he did not send Chimera to fight.
It doesn't matter. If there is the rule, you have to pay. And imagine what the NHL would have done with Vityaz and Avanguard for such a carnage? The teams could be disqualified! After all, the game was cancelled because of that, and the fans payed to see it.
And in a recent game against the Tampa you yourself drop the gloves.
My emotions got me. So what? It was not a lawless outrage, the fights are allowed. But I was in shock, I was prepared to fight and then from behind us comes out Matt Bradley and starts pummeling Downie. I stood there confused and thought, WTF?
What have you said to Bradley then?
"Thank you, buddy!" He tried to do the best.
Back then I thought, "Well, well, that's good that Ovechkin didn't get into a fight. He could've injure himself on the eve of the Olympics because of some Downie. Who needs it?"
I wouldn't use my fists much. I'd just use my body weight, touché!
You told me that in the NHL 70% of the salary is taxed. Explain then, what holds you in this league?
One can't earn all the money. And this is not the most important thing in life. If I had dollar coins in my eyes like Scrooge McDuck, I would have sought for the most profitable place. But instead I signed 13 years contract with Washington, this team became my life, this team became my fate. And you don't know what will happen in the future with the NHL. 13 years is a very long time, but I don't sweat.
If the money is not important, why did you negotiate? You could've signed a contract for $ 2 million a year, not 9.
I'm not saying that money is a cut paper. Everyone deserves a salary for which he works. Same for Kovalchuk, he should receive more than 2-3 million per year, do you agree? Salary is your rating as an employee.
But still you didn't explain what keeps you in the NHL.
First I want to win the Stanley Cup. Second I respect the Washington with whom I've signed the contract.
I got you again. How can you say you respect the contract if in 2014 you are going to wave the NHL goodbye and leave for Sochi Olympics?
This is totaly different, don't get confused. I'm going to leave for a short while. Well, they'll fine me. Well, I'll lose some money. Have you seen the poster that was hanging everywhere during the second World War?
"Motherland calls!". Any questions? If I am needed, I'll be in Sochi.
As far as I understood you won't have a conflict with the Capitals. Ted Leonsis said, "I myself will take Ovechkin to the Olympics, if only he would be happy."
You see, it's all about human relationships. I do a lot of good for Washington and I am sure that the team will treat me the same.
I will mention a third reason that may keep you in the NHL. Suppose that you are receiving a heavily reduced salary. But only in America you can make huge money on advertising. Maria Sharapova's revenue, for example, is composed as follows: 10 percent premium from tennis, the rest from advertising fees.
You are correct. A professional athlete should promote himself on the advertising market. Why do Hollywood stars not only receive a fee from the movies, but also make out of the world money on what becomes the face of some firms? Why the athletes are worse? What is to be shy of?
You've recently signed a contract with a major promotional company IMG. Can you tell about this?
First, I worked with one company, but it didn't work out. I was not happy with our cooperation. I decided that it is necessary to move a large company, and not to engage in mass production. You have to do the right steps in life. Enough of squandering yourself on trifles.
How much of your advertising potential was realized?
Before? One-tenth of one hundred per cent. I'm serious. In terms of advertising it was a nightmare. People who worked with me did nothing.
I saw you in the advertising of one automobile company. You were dancing there like a short-circuited robot.
They told me, if you do the advertising, you'll get a new car. I agreed. But it has little relevance to the advertising business.
And what's going on with IMG?
I have been already announced about their upcoming projects. But I won't leak it to the media. Time will come and you'll see it yourself.
Are there any other hockey players with that company?
Only me. Of the other athletes I know only Maria Sharapova and Tiger Woods.
What have changed in your life over the last year? You haven't learn a waterboy game. I remember that you were planning to move to the new house...
I have not yet moved. Just can't find the right place.
And what doesn't suit with the old house?
A lot of hustle and bustle. The house is on the road. On the one hand this is not bad. But on the other, imagine, I get home after a workout and go to bed before the game. Suddenly the doorbell rings. You are half asleep, you thrust your feet into the slippers, drag yourself down the stairs. Angry as hell you think, "What the hell? Who this could be?". And there he is, a stranger smiling with all his 32 teeth and rejoicing, "Hello, Ovi! Can you sign the jersey?" Dog gone it, I was sleeping! How to react to this?
What a hard life of a Russian millionaire in America. You even have the cemetery next to your house.
It's not a cemetery, it's a family tomb in which ten people were buried.
Do you know your neighbors?
Of course. On the left and on the right of me live young families. But houses are not becoming friends here, not accepted. And in Russia this tradition had died long ago too. You can't show up without a call.
Is it good or bad?
Very bad. Nowadays people are not so friendly. They're all sitting in their corners, hoarding something.
Are you a hoarder? The money is needed in order to spend it.
Money makes you feel comfortable in all situations.
If you have a million dollars, you'll be fine. Go to any country in the world and you won't perish. Why then have ten million?
In the first case you'll fly business class. In a second, you'll buy your own plane, as did Alex Kovalev.
So are you hoarding for a plane? Or for an island in the Indian Ocean?
Why should I? I have all that is needed for my life.
Cottage at Rublevka? Kovalchuk has it.
And I don't. I don't need it. Everyone has their own priorities and views. Now I have nothing to buy. I already have a new large apartment. House, car, job ... Life is good!
Time to make a family.
You can't rush with this. You must understand a person, you need to be engaged with her for a while. As for meeting and getting married immediately... This is not my case. Of course, I have girls in my life...
But you're in no hurry to marry.
On the other hand time goes on. Look, I have a gray beard. (laughs)
How is your life in Washington?
It's very quiet. You come back to America and it's as if you go to sleep in a feather bed. I have a very different rhythm of life in Russia. Oh, how awesome it is during the summer in Moscow! There is no better city in the world!
It is not Turkey, and not Hawaii. What to do in the summer in a stuffy, dusty city, packed with traffic jams?
Come on! I have so many acquaintances, friends, relatives. I must see everyone, talk to everyone. If you want, you can take a nap, if you want, you can hang out. Go to the movies, to the discoteque.
Is Ovechkin a good dancer?
In the style of the short-circuited robot. And I am not shy about it. When I am in Moscow, I have no complexes. I came home to rest! I plowed for seven months at hard labor in the NHL. My nose was broken, I'm all in cuts and bruises when I arrive to Moscow. And I would think, "oh, I'm going to a disco and people will laugh at me? But what about an image? ... No, these stupid thoughts never come to my mind. I've returned home. And I want to enjoy life.
It's time to tell about those two tattoos, which appeared this summer on your back. The fans on the Internet broke down. They even staged a contest "Guess the meaning of Ovechkin's secret tattoes." It seems that one hieroglyph is meaning "life", and another means "family". Are the fans wrong?
And why someone should know? If someone guessed right, fine. But I did that not for fans of crossword puzzles and other puzzles, but for myself.
Was it a spontaneous decision?
It has matured for a couple of years. Then one day Vic Dougan (he now plays for Automobilist), Mashka, the wife of red head from Ivanushki and I went to the salon where I got inked.
Does it hurt?
You can't imagine. More than when my nose was broken. It took 40 minutes on every character.
About the family and the life... I have studied your gloves in the locker room. On one of them it is written: "Nikolai", on the other: "Kabaev". Do you dedicate every goal to your passed away grandfather?
And to the passed away brother. I have written on the side: "SO" - Sergei Ovechkin. That's why after each goal I raise my glove to the heavens.
Ovi is wearing gloves with a sign in cyrillic: Николай. It is upside down and it's Nikolai in Russian.
The rest of the interview is about Vancouver Olympics again. I might finish it over weekend, I might not. Check with Tuvanhillbilly of Japer's Rink, he might has it already.