By Elena Khanian, Sobesednik.ru, Sept. 28, 2011
Ovechkin gave me permission to call him simply Sasha. Before leaving to America, where a new NHL season will start in couple of weeks, the Washington Capitals captain confessed to Sobesednik.ru why he can leave his favorite team, when he would fix his teeth, and revealed some little secrets of his personal life.
I can be traded if they decide so
Sasha, your team is called "Young Guns", but it is no longer as young, and Washington never had success in winning the Stanley Cup. Maybe it is time to rebuild again?
That's true, we are not that young anymore. Most of us are 25, some over 35. However our general manager George McPhee knows his job and is doing everything, in my opinion, to improve the team. If we signed few veteran players this season again, then it will do us a favor. But look who joined us! Jeff Halpern, former captain of the Washington Capitals, plus incredibly strong and skilled defenceman, a forward...
Plus Tomas Vokoun, Czech national team goalie, whose team beat Russia in the finals of the World Championship last year. You probably remember that game?
Yes, this is an incredible goalie! I'm happy now that he plays for me, not against me! I was so glad that Washington was able to entice him, at first I did not even believe it. My friends and I learned it by accident; we were in a restaurant and one of us had nothing to do but read the news on the Internet from his mobile phone. And then he caught a headline that my team signed Vokoun. To be honest, at first I thought it was a joke, this couldn't happen. I even called general manager to double-check. We got a lot stronger from that last trade. And I hope it will make us closer to the long-awaited victory.
How do you respond to the other side of the trade, when your friends leave the team?
it's always hard to part with anybody who had played at least one season. This time it was my close comrade Semyon Varlamov, but I hope that his transition to Colorado Avalanche will help him. He'll be better off there, as a number one, than here... Well, I hope our friendship will not suffer after what happened.
It is probably pointless to ask whether you can go to some team other than Washington Capitals. At least for the next 10 years, while you have your $124 million contract with your club.
Why not, ask me. My answer is that I can be traded. Easily.
What's that? Do you think there will be someone who can pay for you... even more?
Ha ha, maybe there is someone. Who knows? Or do you think that there won't be? Well, I am not going there. I just have such a crafty contract where the club has a theoretical right to trade me to anyone for any money. But in the next three years it can only happen with my consent.
Of course I won't give it. Well, after 3 years no one will ask me, this paragraph will be gone. And then there will be nothing that I can do. Hockey is business. That means I can leave Washington Capitals too.
No speed limit for one day in DC
Sasha, if we forget about the obligations, would you like to come back to Moscow? Even in your debut in the rap video you emphasize that you are Moscow Dynamo alumni.
Come back in Moscow, in what capacity? Dynamo is my Alma Mater, I love it, root for it, trying to help and support at every opportunity, but as a hockey player it is not in my plans to change the NHL for the KHL. And if just to live here like a normal person... then many years after the end of my career I would definitely come back. I'm a Russian, this is my homeland, I am playing for Russia at the world championships. Have to say, it is very nice in America, it's incredibly comfortable to live in the country where everything is thought of. At first I was amazed that people here seemed stilled, nobody was in a hurry. Then I realized that different services have provided them with all the details, that's why Americans can afford not to hurry anywhere. They have all sorts of cool innovations.
Do you really think there's something that will never be thought of in Moscow?
Well... how to say it. I guess not. Here, in the capital of America, you can order almost any product through the Internet, so everybody does it. It saves a lot of time. In our capital, it is not so large-scale...
Well, we've got it. But Moscow doesn't have a tradition to give the symbolic keys to the city that you were handed by the mayor of Washington, DC. I can imagine how you felt.
Yes, it was wonderful. But the keys, incidentally, were not symbolic!
Could you open some door with them?
Ha ha, because of them I was allowed to rule the city as I wish. But for only one day.
And what did you do?
I declared no speed limit for motorists.
Oh! I hope no one crashed.
On the contrary, on that day there were less accidents than usual. I am confident that people in Moscow would be less likely to get into accidents if the speed limit was removed, but other traffic rules were followed.
What things do you miss the most over the ocean?
Home food! I especially like my mother's dumplings (pelmeni), she always makes them by hand. I also like rissoles and borscht with Borodininsky bread.
Do you know how to cook?
A little bit, but not complicated dishes, of course. However, even without my favorite foods, I am more than satisfied with my life in America.
The national team's head coach should visit the West more often
Sasha, this is what happens: Russia develops great hockey players out of the ordinary kids and then they leave to play overseas. Maybe it is more profitable to recruit average players? They won't go to the NHL for sure.
This is the question... The vice-president of Dynamo recently also argued that by allowing talented young kids to go to America we are giving a free gift in which we invested the money, a lot of effort and time. I have a somewhat different view on this matter. You should definitely invest in developing gifted kids. And what if they won't want to leave? Even if they do, they still will come back to play for the national teams, right?
Recently Capitals signed a contract with another young and promising Russian, Stanislav Galiyev.
We do have a lot of Russian guys. Besides Galiyev we have Yevgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitri Orlov, Dmitry Kugryshev... All the guys are set to fight for the place in the roster, they all want to get into the National Hockey League. What can you do if it is the NHL, not the Russian KHL, that provides great opportunities for development?
How do you evaluate our young players? Will we be able to take the gold at the Olympics in Sochi?
We'll see. Sometimes we just miss something strategically important in our preparation for the tournaments. For example, I know that the Canadians study many hours of video on every team and eventually know all the teams very thoroughly. And we sometimes can not wisely develop an elementary tactical play. We can learn from the West, it's nothing to be ashamed of. The national team head coach should fly to America more often to watch opponents live. It is a normal practice throughout the world. No need to adjust to how the backbone of the team used to play in their clubs, you need to adjust to the opponent! It's more complicated, but more effective. Examine the weaknesses, the most frequent combinations and go! Everyone knows that in Sochi we are expected to get the first place. But if we won't think more about the strong opponents, we won't get it.
No problems with weight, touch my belly
Sasha, and is there's anything that you would like to change personally, in yourself, before Sochi?
You mean something like improving my skills?
Since I am a girl, I allude about something else. Oh well, let's just ask... You even sing now, but did not fix your teeth.
Oh my gosh!
It is true though that even without the tooth you have a charming smile...
But you still feel that I need to fix it? Well, well. (Laughs.) I'm not a Hollywood actor (yet), somebody will knock my teeth anyway in any game, even if put the tooth in. But many years later, when I finish my career, I'll take care of it. If I will ever be given "Grammy" then you have to look the best.
But you do watch your figure, don't you? Why are your fans constantly discussing if you need to lose weight or not?
They are worried, apparently. There recently was a case: I was giving an interview and it was recorded on video for our official site, I was shot looking so fat, my dear mother! And my hands looked swollen, like I was a hardened drinker. My teammates were teasing, saying "Sasha, why did you put on weight?"
You really have a reason because this summer you've started to advertise the American chocolates.
Actually I love acting in commercials and I see no shame in that. But how could I gain weight from these chocolates? Look at my stomach, is anything wrong with it? (Taking advantage of Ovechkin's kindness, I am not only look but touch his belly, washboard abs, nothing to worry about. Sasha is pleased with a little experiment too.) That's right, please emphasize in your interview that I have no problems with weight!
I will definitely marry Russian woman
Sasha, since you have no problems with your weight, then put in our way, you are a hot bachelor! This summer, you've been invited to two weddings and now your fans are wondering whether or not you get married.
You know it better.
Of course, I will get married. But not as soon as one would like it. Or I wouldn't like it soon (laughs). I am a family man. I do not want to be considered a womanizer or a ladies' man. I do not want to be attributed to romances that I never had. And example for me is my parents, who have created a strong family for life.
And yet who you like more, our girls or Americans?
Ours, no options. I think I will only marry a Russian, well, I mean, a girl from Russia. Russians are sincere, understanding and cook well.
Sasha, who you'll go to see before your departure to America?
My Granny! Ha ha. I always visit her when I'm in Russia, I love her so much.
Besides Russia where do you like to spend time on your vacation?
Turkey! It's sunny and the sea is wonderful.
Interesting choice. Many believe Turkey is not very prestigious destination for vacation, especially when you talking about rich people.
Who cares? I like it. I chose Turkey because there were no problems with visas. All you need is to buy tickets and come instead of applying for visa a month ahead and then going in line to get it. And the sea, to my mind, is the same everywhere.
What gifts do you usually bring from vacation?
Oh, this time I'm taking a dagger! I was presented with it in Makhachkala, where I was at a football game "Anji - Zenith". A friend invited me there and I really enjoyed my time in Dagestan. They were so hospitable and before leaving I got the dagger, the real thing. it's a very nice dagger. This is what I'll take with me.