Fedor Fedin checks in again with a translated article published in today’s Soviet Sport. The article is written by Dmitry Chesnokov and is titled, “When I speak, do not stare at the ceiling!” It refers to Alex Ovechkin and a joke he makes about his new-found Captaincy. Honestly, could there be no greater title to an article? I think not.
In the text below, Ovechkin talks about Russia’s Failures in the WJC, defends Nikita Filatov, and discusses what it will be like as Captain of one of the best teams in the NHL. Let’s go:
Alexander Ovechkin, the Captain of the Washington Capitals: “When I speak, do not stare at the ceiling!:
Questions and text by D. Chesnokov and D. Shumin for Soviet Sport, translation by F. Fedin for RMNB.
In the history of the NHL, there have only been six Russians who have been permanent captains in the NHL. The four inactive/retired Captains are: Pavel Bure (Florida), Alexandr Mogilny (Vancouver), Alexei Yashin (Ottawa), and Alexei Zhamnov (Chicago). And there currently are two active Russians who are Captains: Ilya Kovalchuk (Atlanta) and now Alex Ovechkin.
We previously reported that the Caps traded their captain Chris Clark and defenseman Milan Jurcina to Columbus for power winger Jason Chimera on the last day of December. Washington cut $2.15 M of salary and also opened the door to nominate for captain their best player and MVP of the NHL for the last two years. It would be a powerful strategical and marketing turn.
Though we had our suspicions that Ovechkin might refuse the captaincy, days later, Alex took the Caps onto the ice in a home game against the Montreal Canadiens with the “C” on the front of his jersey. He didn’t score any points that night, but the home team won 4:2. A few days later, they crushed the Senators (5:2), and captain Ovechkin became one of the heroes of the night.
“I TALKED WITH REFEREES EARLIER, TOO”
“It’s a big moment for me and for the team to get new captain,” Ovechkin said after the game against Montreal. “But i don’t want to be consumed with my new job.”
Dmitry Chesnokov – You refused captaincy earlier in your career, correct? Why do you need to talk with the refs, and carry out team meetings? Your burden is to score goals.
Alexander Ovechkin – I talked with referees earlier, when I was an alternative captain. It’s not hard for me.
DC – Who’s your ideal captain? Chris Clark named Jarome Iginla.
AO – The Capitals captains I played with – Halpern and Clark – did a good job. But why do I need to imitate someone? You have to prove on and off the ice that you’re leader. It’s all about the respect from your teammates. Just imagine, you talk with the team, and one player is looking at the ceiling, another one is picking his nose… It would be unpleasant.
DC – If need be, can you say something tough in the locker room?
AO – Sure. No problem.
“FILATOV IS A LEADER”
“The main cause of our performance was my mistake in choosing the captain. A captain should be an example of how to behave on the ice, in the locker room and outside the arena. We trusted Filatov with the captaincy hoping that his experience would help him and his teammates be successful.
“Unfortunately, Filatov did not get it. He failed as a leader. After the game with Switzerland, I came to the locker room and apologized in front of the team for my choice of captain. Filatov was not worthy of wearing the C.” – Vladimir Pluschev, head coach of the National Russian junior team.
DC – Vladimir Pluschev, Head Coach of the National Russian junior team, blamed Nikita Filatov for the team’s failures in the World Junior Championship. Can one player really be blamed for this?
AO – I don’t think that one player can have such a big influence in a loss. Yes, if you’re the captain, you have some duties. But don’t jump all over Filatov. It was a team loss. Nikita is a leader. Everybody knows that he’s dangerous with the puck, and he can create a goal by himself. But i think the pressure got to him. When he received passes two opponents always stayed close to him. It was like this when I played in WJC, too. Our team was inexperienced and didn’t know how to play against a strategy like this. The first defender follows you, the second secures you. You try to play your game, but you can’t blame Filatov for the loss. He’s a good player. Don’t jump all over him for the failures of the team.
DC – Two years ago you had an invitation to become a captain. Why did you decline it?
AO – You invited me, you, journalists! … I have some experience now. I have seen how other captains behave in the locker room. I understand what i have to do. But even now, the main thing for me is to play good hockey.
DC – Imagine that you’d play with, for example, authoritative defenseman Scott Niedermayer, captain of Anaheim and the Canadian Olympic Team. Would it be hard for you to lead him?
AO – This guy will only help captains. He won’t say: “Why are you ordering me around?”. There is a large number of authoritative new Caps on our team, for example, Knuble. But we’re comrades.
DC – A comparison inevitably comes to mind – Sidney Crosby came to the NHL, became a captain, and won the Stanley Cup. Now Ovechkin wear “C”…
AO – Though I never admit it, my only goal is to win the Cup. But there’s no sense to compare me and Crosby.
DC – Did you try to introduce a new fashion – like sew the russian “K” [Ed. note - Russian "Kapitan"] on your jersey instead of the “C”?
AO – I guess, It will be misunderstood by some! – Ovechkin is smiling.
DC – Will you call for partners and organize events, like Clark did?
AO – We have people on the club who do it. I am free from that responsibility.