Russian Lessons Part III: Who Is The Most Popular Hockey Player In Russia?

[Ed Note: First, RMNB taught you how to correctly pronounce the names of some of Russia’s Best Hockey Players. Second, RMNB taught you how to support the Russian National Team in Vancouver with Authentic Russian Fan Chants and Cheers. Tonight, In Russian Lessons Part III, we’re here to teach you who the most popular, active hockey players in Russia are.

With NHL Games starting at 3am or later in Russia and the KHL starting to find more and more traction, we were interested who Russians talked about and followed the most. Would it be an NHL Player? Would it be a KHL Player? We felt this post was necessary because the media coverage in Washington makes a lot of people assume Alex Ovechkin is the most revered sportsman in the country. He has a huge following – to the point where he’s been on Game Shows and in Music Videos – but you’ll be surprised by what we found today. They’re all yours Fedor.]

Okay, I bet if you had to pick one person to be the most popular hockey player in Russia, you’d pick Alex Ovechkin. This is a great guess, but it’s not 100% true. Let’s check what hockey players Russian users search for the most using the Russian Search Engine “Yandex.” It is the most used Search Engine (51% of search market) in our country.

Most Searched Players

Here are Alex Ovechkin’s Stats:

Alex Ovechkin

Here's How Much Alex Ovechkin's Name Has Been Searched For Over The Two Years

As we can see, Ovechkin is searched for quite a lot. And via these statistics, he’s the most popular. But let’s take a look at Ilya Kovalchuk.

Ilya Kovalchuk Stats:


Here's How Much Ilya Kovalchuk's Name Has Been Searched For Over The Two Years

Kovy’s amazing play on two World Championships made him one of the most popular and searched people in May. But what about two other Russians who are very popular? They’re not even close in this competition.

Evgeni Malkin’s Stats:

Here's How Much Evgeni Malkin's Name Has Been Searched For Over The Last Year

Here's How Much Evgeni Malkin's Name Has Been Searched For Over The Two Years

Even his Stanley Cup didn’t give him big popularity in the Internet.

Alexei Morozov’s Stats:

Here's How Much Morozov's Name Has Been Searched For Over The Last Year

Here's How Much Alexei Morozov's Name Has Been Searched For Over The Two Years

Morozov is ABSOLUTELY the most popular KHL player in the League. He’s also the Captain of Russian hockey team and he was chosen to carry the Russian flag in the Olympic opening ceremony. He was picked over Sergei Fedorov. Despite all of these accolades, he’s not competitive in our ratings.

Russian Fan Polls

Which NHL Team Do You Think Will Win The Stanley Cup?


Russia Believes in the Capitals!

To give you a better idea of how much Ilya Kovalchuk is loved in Russia, look at this fan poll. 3% of the voters – this is crazy – thought that the Atlanta Thrashers would win the Stanley Cup this year (!!!). The Thrashers are 5th in this poll!!! Granted, this was conducted before he was traded, but it’s amazing considering how bad the team is. They just know Kovy is good. That’s all!! The Washington Capitals, on the other hand, are in First Place and have a resounding 60% of the vote.

Going By Their Personality, Which Russian Player Do You Like The Most?

Poll2 here

Russians Choose Alex Ovechkin

This poll is much more undecided. Sure, Ovi is leading here with 34% of the vote, and Kovy 20% and Moro 16% are very close. But see! Malkin is only 5th and only has 9%. Only in one version of polls — TV polls — is Kovy more popular than Ovechkin (he was Sportsman of the Year-2008 and 3rd place in 2007). In 2009 Morozov, Kovalchuk and Malkin became Sportsmen of the Month. Ovechkin was named Sportsman of the Month only once (April 2008) and lost in the 1st round of the Sportsman of the Year playoffs competition (Yelena Isinbaeva won in that quarterfinal).

Lastly, if you take a look at the Russian MSN ratings for today – Ovi is the #8 sportsman in Russia by popularity. Here’s the complete list:

Isinbaeva (track&field), Arshavin (soccer), Pluschenko (figure scating), Safin (tennis), Zhirkov, Akinfeev (both – soccer), Kuznetsova (tennis), OVECHKIN, Sharapova (tennis), Kirilenko (basketball)

Russian Journalist Opinions

Sport Express Journalists named Kovy as a Sportsman of the Year in 2009. In Russian Reporter’s rating Kovy was also 3rd. And sure, being World Champions makes all the difference.

Game Shows and TV Exposure

Lastly, Alex Ovechkin has been all over Russian TV the last few years. Here are a few funny examples:

Finally here’s video of Ovechkin, Kovlachuk & Morozov together at a Russian Music Awards Show

The Other Most Popular Russian Hockey Players In Russia

Here’s the rest of my list for the most popular players in Russia. This is more opinion than anything. But I think this is very fair.

5 – Pavel Datsyuk, 6 – Alex Semin, 7 – Evgeni Nabokov, 8 – Ilya Bryzgalov, 9 – Alexander Frolov, 10 – Maxim Afinogenov

These players were close but just didn’t make my list:

Sergei Fedorov, Semyon Varlamov, Alex Kovalev, Alexander Radulov, Andrei Markov, Alexei Yashin and Sergei Zubov

Please feel free to discuss below in the comments. What do you think? I’ll make sure to answer back tomorrow! Let’s have a lively debate!

  • Your Nation’s Capital

    I was in a little hole-in-the-wall bar in Vienna (VA) last night and there was a dude rocking a Arshavin Emirates jersey.

  • Those game show videos are hilarious, especially when Ovi is dragging his lady partner through practically the whole course.

  • Cookie Monster

    I bet the Caps PR people were cringing when they heard about some of these. You can tell in the game shows that Ovi is determined to win no matter what.

    The first video though has the worst thing Ovi has ever said: the rape comment. Horrible, insulting to an entire country of women, and untrue. Since he has never dated American women he has no idea what he is talking about.

  • We here at RMNB would consider ourselves feminists. But we must say Cookie Monster, let’s watch the use of the R word. That’s not something to throw around lightly.

  • @Your Nation’s Capital – An Arshavin Emirates jersey? Oh man. Did you get a picture or anything? That’s awesome.

  • FedFed

    Today i heard funny comparison on Russian Sports Radio (“Radio Sport”).
    Guy who called to the live air said that he’s not follow NHL. He only heard that Ovi is the Great. And he said that he didn’t see a lot of greatness in the OLY.
    And he think that Ovi is overrated. He compared him with Arshavin. And he’s waitng for bust like in Russia – Slovenia soccer series.
    Canada in hockey isn’t Slovenia in soccer (Slovenia is mid-level team). And Ovi isn’t Arshavin (Arshavin isn’t bets soccer player in the world and he’s not World Superstar at all).

  • FedFed

    @RMNB – Emirates (Fly Emirates) is main sponsor of Arshavin’s team Arsenal London.

  • Mary K.

    “Their all yours” or “They’re all yours” ? 🙂

  • Mary K.

    Those videos are hilarious.

    I agree that the “R word,” as we are calling it, should not be used lightly… but I think Cookie Monster was just pointing out that Ovi was tossing the word around to categorize American women. I was also shocked to hear the comment from Ovi. Interesting to know what he thinks of American women….. (Interesting isn’t really the word I want to use, but I can’t come up with anything better).

  • Peter

    We really don’t have the context, both in the videotape and culture, to responsibly draw any conclusions about that comment. The segment had choppy cuts and a flippant tone, so I don’t think it’d be fair for us to start character assassination now. When RMNB gets its exclusive interview with AO, we’ll ask him his opinion on American women. We will publish the answer in an unedited video with transcript and interpretive dance.

  • Mary K.

    Okay my third comment in a row, but I watched that first video again, and its striking to see how different Ovi is in that video from the interviews we usually see in English. Of course this video was made in fun, but in his English language interviews, he hardly ever looks at the camera and is usually looking down with an impish grin. Its different to see him here looking right into the camera, and looking so comfortable and carefree.

    And it looks like he must have shaved his chest for that gong gameshow, lol.

  • Mary K.

    Gosh, Peter, now we are to character assassination! Easy, boy. 😉 I love Ovi, and I can certainly appreciate that the clip may be out of context. I suppose this isn’t the “lively debate” that was being sought 🙂 although I don’t think this qualifies as a debate.

    We’ll be looking forward to the exclusive interview!

  • FedFed

    This well-oiled mechanism defeated Russia without serious prbolems:

  • Peter

    Hahahahaha well done Fedor

  • Oh man Fedor, that’s hilarious.

  • FedFed

    My friend sent it to me. I laughed hard.

  • Jordan

    Who’s 2nd in the voting, Пингвины?

  • Jordan

    Who’s second in the voting, Пингвины? (I hope Google Translate works right)

  • Jordan

    Pardon my double comment, I thought I first one didn’t go through.

  • Peter

    Oh, Jordan.

    I’m just gonna assume you said Pittsburgh. I wonder who Pitt will face in the first round. Might not be a cakewalk to Conference Finals.

  • Jordan

    I’m for anyone but the Devils, Ol’ Fatso has already had 2 shutouts on us.

  • Cookie Monster

    Mary K.: Yes, Ovie does remove his chest hair. Frankly, I think he looks better with a bit of hair, but I like my men to look like men, not boys. (Tatler magazine photos on AO blog.)

    Peter: Thank you, but if RMNB interviews him, then a question about American women wouldn’t get to the point. We have all heard him say in more recent interviews that he likes all women, but Russian women are the best. I don’t expect a more in depth answer unless he is asked specifically about the aforementioned comment.

    Ovechkin does have a habit of saying bolder things/being more outspoken to Russian media when he is home in Russia and being milder/more neutral in American interviews. If you are saying things you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying to all audiences, then don’t say it. (Language barrier aside.)

    I will say that I think Ovechkin was pandering a bit to his audience and speaking from naivete and with thoughtlessness. I think he’s heard that American women are gold diggers who try to trap famous and wealthy men and try to destroy them when the men turn them down. Some of our other young Russian players have also displayed uninformed opinions about American women, so Ovechkin isn’t alone in that. Hopefully, the more time they spend in the U.S. the more they will realize that their views don’t hold up against reality.

  • Well I was hoping the USA was going to be victorious yesterday, but the Canandians were a little to good for us. Good game Canada!