Always, it’s about Ovechkin. Even for players such as Mike Green, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom, three special talents in their own right, when the Great 8 shows up, they’re the Washington Whatevers – props. You’d think it would get tiring, always being the second and third violin in Ovie’s orchestra. But the Capitals insist that’s not the case. Several Capitals were asked to speak freely and reveal the down side of being trapped in Ovechkin’s orbit. They did so providing they be identified and quoted on the record.
This is Matt Bradley’s 10th season in the NHL. Most people have already forgotten he was a fourth-round pick of the San Jose Sharks in 1996. The Caps’ grinding winger loves watching Ovechkin play but feels oh so differently when asked to get his teammate’s autograph.
Then there’s having to sit next to Ovechkin in the Capitals’ dressing room, at home or on the road. The media constantly surrounds Ovechkin before and after games, sometimes four or five deep, which makes it impossible for the player sitting next to Ovie to reach his locker. Guys have to stand around in their stinking hockey gear until the last question is asked and Ovechkin hits the showers, possibly looking to borrow someone else’s soap.
“That can be tough,” acknowledged defenceman Tyler Sloan.
What about rooming with him in hotels?
“[Fans] call every room to find out where he is,” Bradley said.
“There are so many autograph seekers we always send him out first,” Sloan added.
“We’re always asked, ‘What’s he really like?’” said Laich, the former sixth-round draft pick of the Ottawa Senators in 2001.
So? What’s he really like?
Laich admitted, like Bradley, he is always asked by family and friends to get Ovechkin’s autograph. Six of Laich’s family members and buddies recently drove from Regina to Saint Paul, Minn., to see the Capitals play the Wild. Ovechkin had a photo taken with each one of them, which reminds Bradley of one more thing.
Such is the cost of living in Ovie’s world.
I can tell you, Bradley is the funniest guy in the world. You've got to be pretty smart to have such sense of humor. I am still laughing at his announcement about hockey clinic to other Caps players when he scored in shootout and won the game for Caps. (Was it last year?)
I am glad to hear about Laich and his family as Ovi's fans. I am glad because I hope the incident at the worlds is over. "Yeah, Ovi, you are my bro, but tonight I am playing for my country spelled C-a-n-a-d-a." Or maybe there was no incident at all, it's just Varly speaking to Russian media. He thinks if he is over there, nobody would know what he said. Not so.