A long time ago, before last night’s embarrassing loss to the Canadian Olympic Team and before last year’s crushing Game 7 loss to the Penguins, Alex Ovechkin was a happy, carefree individual who craved attention. He’d practically do any interview asked of him and was always happy to promote himself and the Capitals to no end. It’s safe to say that Ovechkin’s expressive play over the years has even captured the hearts of a once moribund sports town and turned Washington DC into a genuine Hockeytown.
But with peaks must come valleys. And the 2010 Vancouver Olympics was a deep chasm of awful for the Russian Machine – minus one legendary moment. What did Vancouver do though? It illustrated what can happen to a 24 year old when he carries a burden too heavy for even his broad shoulders to hold.
It has been no secret that a Gold Medal could indeed mean more to Ovechkin than a Stanley Cup. To him, it would bring honor not only to his country, but to his family that he so deeply loves. For the fiercely competitive Ovechkin, it would simply be symbolism that he’s good enough. That he’s as big of a champion as his mother, who was a two time Olympic Champion in Basketball herself.
Combine these internal pressures with a giant letdown against Team Canada, a lack of privacy that comes with being a huge celebrity, and a media horde consisting of reporters where 75% of them don’t speak your native tongue (who ask the same questions 55 different ways), sometimes frustration overflows. Really, what do we gain from terrible interviews such as this one?
My point being that while I’m disappointed by the fact that Ovechkin pulled a Randy Johnson with a cameraman and had numerous other run-ins with reporters, I’m more disappointed by the fact that he missed a golden opportunity to connect with even more fans across the globe during his time at the Olympics. But, we all must realize that Ovi’s human. And even great ones are involved with epic failure now and again.
So just know, we here at RMNB know that this was a valley. The fun-loving, toothless-smiling Ovechkin shall return. And in June we shall be writing a different story about victories and scratchy beards. So let’s give the man a break and breath for a minute. What stupid things did you do at 24? I’m sure worse than a palm to a video camera.