Watching how Ovechkin plays nowadays is like a slow torture, like a slow murder suicide. And I am not alone, after tonight's loss to Vancouver I looked at Japer's Rink's recap: Canucks 4, Caps 2, writtten by Becca H. No mentioning of Ovechkin, no such thing. Can you believe it? I don't think it ever happened before. And then I looked at Capitals Insider's Katie Carrera's blog, the same!
Not a word about the Captain! So what, ladies don't like him anymore? :-) Was he traded and am I the last person to know?
Ovi is struggling and maybe the worst thing is, you feel sorry for him. He doesn't float, he doesn't disappear, he is not absent, he is there and he tries really hard, he skates hard, he works hard. He plays physical, he hits the opponents, even got in the fight with Brandon Dubinsky, but he doesn't score anymore as he used to.
Bad luck? Maybe playing through wrist injury? Or maybe bad decisions that he made last summer?
"I know what you did last summer, Ovi!" :-(
So what happened last summer? Too much partying? I don't think so. As much partying as before in his previous years when he dominated the NHL. But two things that happened with Ovi have probably affected his performance this season.
First, he lost his personal fitness trainer Dmitri Kapitonov who was with him for the last 3 years.
Ovechkin, in turn, helped Dmitry to get a job at Moscow Dynamo hockey club:
"We signed a contract with Kapitonov for the entire next season. And we are ready to extend it right now. We hope that Dmitry came to our club for a long time, after all, he is a former marathoner. He was personally recommended to Dynamo by Alex Ovechkin. They came to my the office together. But the best recommendation for Kapitonov is his last year's work with those players. All of his wards had awesome NHL seasons", said Dynamo's president Mikhail Golovkov.
Dmitri is from St. Petersburg and with demise of Moscow Dynamo he was immediately hired along with his twin brother to work as fitness trainers for St. Petersburg's hockey club SKA.
Second was the act of God, the natural disaster, the wild fires around Moscow.
Ovi still could go to St. Petersburg and train there, unless he and Dmitri had parted ways for good, but he stayed in Moscow (Lera?). It was hard even to breathe in Moscow, nevermind to run the cross country. The conditions eventually improved, but his pre-season training obviously was not the same or as intensive as in previous years.
Ovi simply couldn't adjust, couldn't find another trainer as good as Kapitonov and now he pays for it. Pre-season training is very important, it's a foundation for a long NHL season. Here's what Sergei Fedorov said about Kapitonov:
I personally really liked the training, the physical foundation that Kapitonov builds in you. I'd say his training methodology is one of the most advanced training systems I've experienced, and it is more for hockey players than for marathon runners, sprinters or weightlifters.
Dmitri Kapitonov was following Ovi through the whole NHL seasons for 3 years, last time he was in DC in April of 2010. Now Ovi doesn't have such guidance, he trained for a month with Kovalchuk's personal trainer and we know the results for Ilya as well.
"Russian machine never breaks", but it needs maintenance.
Where's your guardian angel when you need it? (Photo by Russian version of OK! Magazine)
Meanwhile Russian version of OK! Magazine, published Jan. 13 ,2011, has an interview given by Ovi when he signed a contract with Gillette. (A ton of shirtless Ovi again for female fans who read this blog :-)
Here's the translated interview conducted by Igor Skobelev:
When will you fix your tooth? Or do you intentionally not doing this to look more brutal?
No, it's just one of the most common injuries in ice hockey -- when your tooth is knocked out by a stick. That's why it makes no sense to insert an implant, it can get knock out again. By the way, many of my friends who are hockey players, apparently from a sense of solidarity also go out without teeth.
In Vancouver, during the Olympics, I watched how Canadians reacted to your appearance on the street. You just got out of the hotel, came to the car and a jubilant crowd gathered around you at once. And in Russia, are you loved just as much?
It's just because the mentality there is completely different. They are not afraid to openly show their feelings. They immediately photograph you, ask for autograph, show delight and a declaration of love. And in Russia it is not accepted to point the finger and show emotions in public in general.
Do you like living abroad? Many athletes say that Russia is cool, but not as comfortable, but in America it's other way around.
I'm used to share my life between the two countries. In America I play hockey, but here I am hanging with my friends. When I come here in the summer, you are constantly busy doing something: I'm always meeting someone, go to the night clubs. It's a bit exhausting, and it seems that every year you go in the same places, do the same things ... In America there are night clubs too where you can go and party, but my [Russian] friends are not there. (Laughs.)
They say that you can recognize a Russian by the the manner of how they dress -- we're always dressed to look luxurious, regardless of the time, place and action.
Yes, Americans are not crazy about the brands. It is only here, if you don't wear famous brands, you're dressed bad. Although the [Russian] adage "You meet a person by appearance (clothes), but you part with impression of how smart they are" has not been forgotten. In America a billionaire can go out in sneakers and jeans.
When in Moscow, are you trying to follow the fashion?
I basically don't care what to wear. I like sports clothing. I go out in sports pants or shorts with a T-shirt. If you need to dress to go somewhere, I can just put on a shirt with jeans. I can afford to buy expensive brands and I buy them. But the time when I was crazy about it, like go shopping and buy dozens of jeans, this time has long passed. In this sense, America has changed me.
Sasha, tell me, is it important how much a person earns? You are quite successful, and your friends and acquaintances -- they are probably hardly an ordinary people?
For me it was never a problem. I can communicate with people of different incomes. And with millionaires, and those who live from paycheck to paycheck. What's the difference how much a person earns? It is important what he has in his mind!
Men feel bad if they don't earn much. What is your minimum?
I agree, for a man, the more he earns, the better. Especially now that money can solve a lot. Someone rides Ferrari and someone saves for Ford. But money can also help to those who don't have much.
My cooperation with Gillette will help Dynamo's juniors hockey training facility and young and talented hockey players like I was once myself. I hope that it can help them to achieve something in life, that, like it was for me, their hard work and training will ensure their future.
And what will you do in the future?
I will relax! (Smiles)
Is that all?
Not really, of course when I'll have a family, then the priorities will be different. But as for now I would rather choose to relax.
A few years ago at the wedding of your friend Ilya Nikulin, I asked you when you were going to marry, and you just smiled and said nothing.
And now I'll just smile and say nothing. (Smiles)
And Nikulin has son now...
Someone wants to start a family earlier, someone not in a hurry. I'm only 25 years old. Let's see and never guess what will happen.
Are you just not going to say goodbye to a bachelor life or are you waiting for the only one?
Not that I am not going to... Of course, I want my parents to have grandchildren. But it's still too early in fact.
Why? Are you afraid to take responsibility?
We can say I am still a kid, just out of adolescence. I need to grow up even more. (Laughs.)
Here's more on charitable contributions in collaboration with Gillette:
WASHINGTON and MOSCOW, Dec. 7, 2010 — Ovechkin will appear in advertising and marketing activities in support of the world’s leading male grooming brand in Russia and Eastern Europe and will collaborate with Gillette to create charity programs that will contribute to youth hockey development in the region, as well as the Washington, D. C. area.
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