Above Tatiana Ovechkina (left) sits with her son Alex (middle) many years ago.
Today, March 19th, is Tatiana Ovechkina’s 60th birthday. In celebration of the milestone, Soviet Sport’s Pavel Lysenkov phoned in from Russia to Alex Ovechkin’s home in DC and interviewed the Great Mother of the Great 8.
In the translated article below, Ovechkina discusses what she loves to cook for her sons, why she didn’t fly to Vancouver to watch Alex in the Olympic Games & if he’s completely gotten over the crushing loss to Canada.
Pavel Lysenkov – Alex Ovechkin is very powerful player. Where did he get such genes?
Tatiana Ovechkina – Despite a very difficult childhood, I was never very strong. However everything I did, I did with desire and devotion. Sasha has this as well. Sometimes he can train at the brink of exhaustion for several hours without taking a break.
I played 40 minutes per game without a substitution [Ed. Note - Basketball games in Europe had similar rules as NCAA Basketball] – on both Dynamo and team Russia when the games were very important. I could take a rest in easy games. But when it was needed, I manned up.
Also, my husband, Alex’s father is related to sports as well. He played for Dynamo’s affiliate in soccer. He was a pretty good back. [...]
PL – What do you like to cook for your sons?
TO – They like cutlets, pelmeny (a Siberian dish of small pockets of dough filled with seasoned, minced beef, lamb, or pork and served boiled, fried, or in a soup), stuffed cabbage rolls (Russian “golubtsy”). Sometimes other Caps players come over for dinner. Not only the Russians, even foreigners, like Nicklas Backstrom and several others.
PL - When the Caps are playing I fear to even say hello to you. You are so closed off from others in the crowd. You’re upset even during ordinary games against weird teams like Tampa or Carolina [Ed. Note - NOT TRUE about 'Canes]…
TO – How can I not do it? Sasha does such hard work. Hockey is full-contact game, big pressure. Every moment is a war. They want to hit you, you hit them.
PL – Why did you allow Alex to play hockey then?
TO – He’s very athletic guy. He’d be able to stick up for himself in any game. But he watched a lot of hockey in his childhood, constantly ran with a stick inside our home. He was always in motion, his eyes glowed always. Since he started to walk, Sasha is the most passionate fan of Dynamo Moscow in any sports.
PL – Have you ever had a moment in your career like Alex did after the Vancouver Olympics?
TO – Yeah, I did. Ten years ago we played in the women’s basketball Euroleague “Final Four” [Ed Note: She was a coach], but were not able to win that tournament. We lost by one point to the French team… There was a terrible meltdown.
For the Vancouver Olympics we watched in Moscow, but right after the loss we flew home to Washington to support Sasha. I’ll keep the words private that I said to him. It’s very hard to reanimate him.
I don’t know why, but everyone decided that Russians will defeat all other teams including Canada and will take the gold easily. But look, how many good teams came to Vancouver? Don’t judge our guys so harshly. They wanted to win. I don’t say that Team Russia lost in the Olympics. They just weren’t able to win it.
PL – Why didn’t you come to Vancouver? A lot of parents of fellow NHLers cheered for them from the arena.
TO – I thought I would better help my son from a distance. Anyways, we wouldn’t see Sasha during the tournament anyways. And he always calls before every game. It’s his habit since he played in Dynamo.
PL – Also, a scandal with two broken cameras broke out in Vancouver involving your son. Everyone believes that Ovechkin attacked a fan and a correspondent. Really it was two correspondents who wanted to act as paparazzi. They shot where it was forbidden. They were asked not to do it, but did it anyways. I saw it. What did Alexander think about these accusations?
TO – I said: “Sasha, this is their business. Yes, it’s a pity. Don’t worry about it. I had bad relationships with the press. I don’t like interviews. If someone wrote something ugly about you, do you have to cry about it? Let them write and say what they want. But you, son, do your business, play hockey.”
PL – Has Sasha’s post-Olympic depression ended yet?
TO – He still has pains. We’re trying to not talk about the Olympics. But some bad moments happen still. Sometimes we see Vancouver replays on tv, sometimes we see that our Dynamo lost to Spartak [Ed. Note - In KHL playoffs series. Spartak - Dynamo is one of the main hockey rivalries in Russia]. And Sasha’s spirit falls.
He had high hopes for this Olympics. He believed that players can make country happy. He wants to tie the Olympic score with me. To win at least one gold. But now he has to wait for Sochi.
He pines for it but I say: “Time and wins heal all. Don’t lose your heart. You’ll get everything eventually.”
Other related notes from the interview: Author Pavel Lysenkov, when referring to her other son’s job with the Mystics, refers to them as the “women’s team Wizards” in preword before the interview. Terrible.
Other NHL related news swirling around Russia right now: Dmitri Orlov’s MHL team Novouznetsk Bears defeated Krylya Sovetov and have advanced to the second round of the playoffs. Milos Rziga (coach of Spartak Moscow) on Slovakian national team in the Olympics and what some of his players told him: “Slovakian coach didn’t rule the team, Chara talked a lot before the game and even drew some tactic schemes”. About Jagr: “When we talked with him he said he’s ready to come back in the NHL.” Big news!