Just in from our senior investigative correspondent, good job as usual, Emily!
The NHL star Alexander Ovechkin pleases the fans of Moscow Dynamo this fall the same way as he did when he was younger. During the lockout he changed Washington Capitals jersey to a white-n-blue one and scores regularly , he has exactly 14 points in 14 games. It is an adventure to get an audience with Ovi. Alexander the Great, as he known in North America, does not exactly avoid the journalists. He talks to the press, unlike many far less famous soccer players, fairly regularly. But he takes it as a rather necessary inconvenience. During the interview Ovechkin takes indifferent gaze somewhere in front of him and gives short answers. It is hopeless to expect from him any revelations or at least to get interested in the process.
During the World Cup 2008 in Quebec I got access to the star through a colleague who knew Ovi from the time when he was just a schoolboy named Sasha. But even then Alexander has allocated to our communication exactly ten minutes. Once the time was up, he got up from the table and politely left. They say it is a part of his character.
Ovechkin gets tired easily and loses concentration from long talks. They say that even for a Dynamo's web site he had to be interviewed in two stages of 15 minutes each. So when Alexander became generous and agreed to ten minutes for "Rossiyskaya Gazeta", I immediately rushed to the team's training facility in Novogorsk. While waiting I watched Dynamo's training from the podium next to the head coach of the "white-n-blue" Oleg Znarok and Alexander Ovechkin's girlfriend tennis player Maria Kirilenko.
After training session ended Ovi didn't sound so optimistic about an interview. Sheltered in the locker room, he tried to convince Dynamo's press attache Mikhail Kravchenko to cut conversation to five minutes. We finally agreed on seven. Ovechkin followed timing strictly and by the end of the allotted period of time he looked tired. Here's what we've got in the end.
Alexander, according to information from the U.S. the NHL season can still happen, and almost in the near future. How long we will be able to watch you live?
I don't have any new information about it. Of course, I know a little more than the journalists, but to talk about it in the press doesn't make sense. Why blow up something comprehensible out of incomprehensible? If it is possible to play here, I will. I have developed an excellent relationship with the club, with the coaching staff, with the guys in the team. I feel yourself at home.
The club's president said that even if the NHL lockout is over, Dynamo wants to keep Ovechkin. Is it for real?
I don't think this is unrealistic. All things are possible. But let's wait and watch what will happen overseas.
Can top NHL players somehow influence the course of negotiations between the union and the leadership of the League?
Our head Donald Fehr knows the terms on which we would agree to play. Nobody wants to have their salary or their status to be lowered. Here everything would be up to Fehr. We have full confidence in him, but there the situation can change in different ways.
Can they can call you and say, "they offer such and such, will we agree?"
They're not at the market, this is not some kind of trade. The NHL is a big organization, and they are working thinking about the future. No one wants to have a good contract for the coming season, and then three or four years to play on terms that do not suit us. Everything must be planned in a systematic and uniform way.
Is lockout a blow to hockey in general?
Of course. It is especially strong blow to Canada, local hockey fans go crazy. But, again, we want to play, and the club owners do not.
Compared to season from which you went overseas, is it more difficult to play in the KHL?
Honestly, I do not even remember how it was then. Because I left a while ago and in Russia I didn't play too long. So I am not going to try to compare. The hockey is decent, the tournament is organized well, all at the highest level.
If Dynamo with his current roster would play in the NHL, what place it could take?
Over there, just like here, the regular season does not mean much. The main thing is the playoffs. In any case, I do not think that hockey in the NHL and KHL can be compared. You will need to practice to get used to the smaller rinks. These are two completely different game styles. In the NHL everything is compact; smaller rinks, you have to think faster. Here you have more time to make decisions.
As you play, and so we are seeing. But what else have time to do other than hockey?
(darkens) To be interviewed.
Still at home is probably nicer, friends are nearby, you can see more of them...
Home is home, but the traffic jams, of course, are killing. You can get here in ten minutes, but on the way back it could be two hours. And so it is very difficult to make any plans.
Your last message in the "Twitter" has excited the public - you have posted video about bursted pipe at your and Mikhail Anissin's hotel room in Nizhny Novgorod...
(Laughs) Yes, it happens.
Was it the first time you have faced such problem?
The pipes were bursting at home before, this is normal and there is nothing special. It was just a funny situation and I made fun about bursted pipe in our room.
Why after that your twitter account went silent for two weeks? Nearly half a million readers are waiting for your news.
Just nothing interesting is happening. I can not write that I went to the gym. If there are any important or interesting events, I naturally relate them to the global network.
How much are you engage in online life? 470,000 readers is more than the circulation of many newspapers. pretty big audience...
I have a very good attitude towards Twitter. I think this is the right decision for the public person to create your own personal pages. Every fan should see what her idol is doing. Laymen people can write and find out what's happening.
We followed your emotions in London on twitter, where you went to the Olympics to root for Maria Kirilenko. That was an unusually spent summer, wasn't it?
True, the summer was really quite different. I've spent more time on the road with my girlfriend, and in principle I am satisfied and happy with the way I've spent my time.
You were at the Winter Olympics as a member of a national team. Now visited the summer Olympics as a spectator. Does it feel different?
The fact is that in London Masha and I lived in the house, not at the Olympic village or at the training facility. That's why it is difficult to compare.
Do you understand tennis better now?
Yes, I started to understand it better. Fond of it, play myself. And I think Masha understands hockey better too.
Maria's tennis season is over. Is she with you all the time now?
Yes, everything is good. We will spend her vacation here.
Ovi at the soccer game Loko vs. Anji (yesterday)