Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is pretty good at hockey (when he’s not hurt), especially scoring goals. Everybody knows that. Special correspondent for Sport-Express Slava Malamud is pretty good at writing, especially writing about hockey– even more so when writing about people who are good at hockey like Alex Ovechkin. If you don’t know that by now, it’s only because you are too lazy to learn Russian just to avail yourself of Slava’s pearls of hockey wisdom and assorted hilarity.
Or maybe you are just waiting for RMNB to give you those Slava’s pearls on a silver platter, so you can partake in his body of work without leaving your pitifully monolingual comfort zone. If that’s your excuse, you are in luck. This latest Slava creation is just too good to ignore (and also he dared us). After all, in the history of western civilization since Julius Caesar, as far as we know only Commodus and Robespierre with his cohorts managed to successfully, albeit very temporarily, undertake a comparable feat… So without further ado, we bring to you a new calendar! No more boring Februarys, tiresome Junes, or dreary Novembers – every month from now on shall be an OVI-month! Let the OVI-time begin!
No matter what the Chinese calendar (which apparently is more popular in Russia than in China) says, 2013 was not the Year of Snake, Bear, or Rhinoceros, but a different animal. This special Sport-Express calendar confirms that.
New Year is here! Traditionally the first nine or ten days in January are the Time of Troubles. No one remembers any details, and only the reverberating sound of empty bottles hints that everything indeed was great.
But then the unstoppable chain of events begins.
BAM! – Ovechkin and Kirilenko are engaged! While we were eating clementines, the hockey player and the tennis player decided to tie the knot, which is what they announced via Twitter. That’s some news! As they say, New Year, new happiness.
BAM! – the NHL lockout is over! Are you guys kidding?! It is such a blow below the belt – an act of aggression at the moment when the country cannot respond due to obvious medical reasons. Oh well! Ovechkin will stay with us anyway. He can’t not stay. He said it himself a few times in 2012: I will stay.
BAM! – Ovechkin is leaving. Practically taking the very first flight from beloved Sheremetevo to the Dulles airport in Washington. And now he is coming out for the press conference in Arlington wearing a t-shirt that says: “Am I the handsomest here again?”
Meanwhile, the new head coach of the Capitals Adam Oates is working on a devious plan to move Ovechkin to the right wing. After their one-on-one meeting, the team captain’s life gets difficult. Ovechkin is running around from one wing to another, bumps into his teammates and scores only one goal in six games. Washington is sinking fast, team owner Ted Leonsis is expressing his concern with the situation, the subject of Ovechkin as a burned-out star is being massaged by the media on both sides of the ocean.
And only Andrei Markov in his typical terse fashion claims that Ovechkin is going to be fine. “Because he is Ovechkin” – says the veteran to Sport Express.
With anxiety, melancholy and philosophy, begins the month of…
The crisis in Washington becomes more serious. Ovechkin is still unproductive and loses his spot on the first line. Washington sinks to the 30th place in the table. Meanwhile, the NHL is still delaying the decision on participation in Sochi Olympics.
Ovechkin cannot bear all these hardships at ones, and on February 9th, at home against Florida, during the 14th game of the season, he finally scores a 5 on 5 goal. It happens after the fans gather near the team practice rink and conduct a ritual slaughter of a rubber cow.
Hurray! It is working! – rejoice the fans. In contrast with them, a well-known American hockey commentator Mike Millbury is not rejoicing at all and ends the month with a few well publicized attacks on Alexander.
That is how – full of emotions – begins the month of…
There is a new Pope in Vatican, but nobody cares about that when there is Ovechkin, and Millbery! “This gentleman’s opinion as far as I am concerned somewhere by pechka” – tells the Russian star in his interview with Sport-Express, which leads to Milbury spending several sleepless nights looking for that “pechka” and his opinion next to it. Ovechkin also adds that he has his own opinion – regarding Milbury’s work as a General Manager of the Islanders, and that leads to an explosion of Twitter. Twitter recovery still continues to this day.
Meanwhile, Ovechkinless Dinamo beats SKA in Gagarin Cup playoffs, and Ovechkin, whose mood is undergoing a radical change for the better, publishes his congratulatory speech on Twitter: “Hahahaha, beauts!”
Ovechkin ends the month by scoring eight goals in eight games, and Oates, who up until recently had been advised to ask for asylum in some remote and unpopulated state, now appears to be a genius.
In his interview with Sport-Express the Capitals coach explains in great detail what scared him into redeploying Ovechkin on the right wing, and strongly recommends for Team Russia to do likewise.
So – full of hopes and dreams – commences the month of…
Ovechkin starts the month by scoring two goals against Carolina, and goes on to a crazy rampage: a game-winning shootout goal on Nabokov, a hat trick versus Florida, and two goals against Tampa. Steven Stamkos is caught up with in the scoring race, and the league is struggling to keep up with awarding stars of the day and stars of the month. The talk of Hart Trophy becomes louder and louder.
Meanwhile, Washington is climbing up the ladder into the playoffs position, and while nobody is predicting a long and happy voyage, everyone realizes that without Ovechkin, playoffs wouldn’t even be in the conversation. By mid April, Alexander has 17 goals in the last 15 games, and Washington wins 12 of them. MVP? You bet!
Ovechkin is again the darling of the nation’s capital. Having scored 14 goals in the month of April, he bests Mario Lemieux’s record, wins Richard Trophy and this author’s vote for Hart. Adam Oates and Wayne Gretzky publicly come out in support of your correspondent’s choice.
Ovechkin scores a goal in the first game of the Rangers series and becomes the top Stanley Cup goal scorer in Capitals history. He scores nothing afterwards. After the third game of the series the criticism returns.
In game 5 Ovechkin almost injures Joel Ward while jumping to hug him following a goal. In game 6 he inhures himself while blocking a shot. Ovechkin begins game 7 while ramming into every mobile and immobile object alike, but the Rangers sustain the pressure and trounce the Capitals.
Alexander is upset and complains about refereeing in game 6. Team Russia coaches recall area code for Washington. Ovechkin and his fractured ankle dash to The Worlds, just in time for the matchup against the USA, and despite exchanging text messages with Oates until 2 a.m. What about? That will remain a secret.
In the game against USA Alexander has a goal and an assist, but nothing can rescue that Team Russia. In five days Ovechkin shows up at Dinamo gold medal ceremony wearing a brace on his leg.
In Paris, during the French Open, comes the month of…
Maria Kirilenko reaches the quarterfinals of the Grand Slam and enters the top ten of WTA rankings. At the same time Ovechkin also receives good news: he did won his third Hart Trophy. Alexander receives the award and writes on Twitter “MVP??Wow!!!)))haha”.
To translate this into his native, less concise tongue, it means: “I am recognized as the most valuable player of the NHL. It is unexpected and wonderful! I want to laugh!”
By the end of the month, Alexander is in London, because Wimbledon. The English do not allow him exercise at the gym, unlike Caroline Wozniacki’s boyfriend.
In the meantime, a Swede with Russian roots – Andre Burakovsky – is selected by and goes to Washington. Alexander calls him and shares all Capital secrets with him.
With hopes of warm and peaceful “top of the year” begins…
As the tradition goes, in midsummer it’s the high society news that dominates. Viktor Kozlov gets married, and Alexander together with Kirilenko attends the festivities. Afterwards Ovechkin posts on the internet a few holiday pictures with Maria. The young couple vacations in Turkey, because where else?
Meanwhile, Kovalchuk follows Snowden to Russia.
With thoughts of how are we all going to be from now on, starts…
Ovechkin in Moscow and already started preseason training. A video of Alexander running around tennis court dragging some guy behind on an elastic leash. He also visits a soccer Dinamo game, and a hockey Dinamo practice, and all newspapers write about it.
Team Russia candidates, with Ovechkin among them (surprise!) gather in Sochi for their camp. That’s where they hold a ceremony introducing Olympic uniforms. The uniforms have a lot of gold color and eagle heads, as well as eight stars to provoke FC Spartak Moscow envy. In his interview with Sport-Express Ovechkin promises to bring the ninth.
With preseason commotion and suitcase packing, happens…
Andrei Safronov enters the world stage. Dinamo’s General Director in his interview with guess-which-media-outlet announces that next summer the Blue-and-Whites will try to add Ovechkin to Kovalchuk in Russia’s collection of acquisitions.
Washington panics ever so slightly. While Ovechkin feeds pastry of his stick blade to the host of TV show “Evening Urgant” (a typical Ovechkin-like offseason), the question of who is mister Safronov debated in the capital city of the USA. When Ovi returns to America, the management team of the Capitals conducts a soul-saving chat with him and confirms that for now he is not getting away from them.
The NHL salutes Alexander via Winnipeg’s defenseman Ben Chiarot’s stick, which meets Ovechkin’s face in a preseason game. Naturally, Ovi promptly posts on Twitter his slightly retouched portrait. A few days later, having celebrated his 28th birthday, he breaks glass at the arena in Baltimore during a preseason game against Boston. The glass does not post anything on Twitter.
The month ends with Ovechkin’s trip to Greece where he illuminates the whole Ancient Olympia with his torch.
As the antique greatness burns, and the regular season looms, begins…
Washington’s season begins in Chicago, where the Capitals lose to the champions in spite of Ovechkin’s goal and assist, and Grabovski’s hat trick. But Ovechkin is just getting started. He scores four more goals in the next three games (for a total of 10 in the first month of the regular season). Who is named the NHL’s first star of the first week? That is a rhetorical question.
On the 10th Ovechkin meets his old friend Alexander Semin, punches him in the face and receives two minutes for it. Semin gets two for “diving”, although if Ovechkin punched you in the face in the same fashion, you would dive even more enthusiastically. Two days later Alexander almost in the same way drops his current teammate – Marcus Johansson.
In his spare time Alexander attends an NFL game together with Andriy Shevchenko. At work, he takes the lead in the NHL goal scoring race.
The month ends with an unfortunate collision in Vancouver and a shoulder injury. Slightly concerned and wearing civilian clothes our hero greets…
The first game of the month for Washington is also the first since 2006 without a single Russian in the lineup. As far as we are concerned, you no longer exist, Washington!
But no – on the 5th Ovechkin is back in the lineup and assists on Tom Wilson’s first career goal. The following day he scores two goals on Evgeny Nabokov and enters Club 1000 – as its 11th member. Can the NHL not name him the first star of the day? No!
Meanwhile, a video of the song by Irina Allegrova “Shaybu! Shaybu!”surfaces in North America, in which the singer expresses her outrage that hockey accidentally was invented somewhere other than Russia (unlike every other team sport), and Ovechkin together with Kovalchuk, Tretyak and Malkin screams rhythmically into a microphone. For a period of time the video becomes a You Tube sensation.
Approximately at the same time Alexander experiences a territorial conflict with deer in the state of Virginia, and one of the deer topples the fence surrounding the house. Twitter explodes again and cannot calm down for awhile.
Washington gradually reaches the second place in their division, despite Pittsburgh’s total dominance in their matchup. Ovechkin is disappointed, but scores his 20th goal on the 23rd anyway. He is on pace to score 70+ goals in the season and basically represents the whole Capitals offense.
With chasing Alexander Steen in the goal scoring title race begins the winter month of…
A new You Tube sensation – a promotional video “Play like Russians”. It portrays the country of Russia, and its athletes engaged in playing sports most popular among the ancient Rus – hockey, soccer, jumping over an ice hole, figure skating, snowboarding, and bearded polar bear swimming. There are no bears in the streets, but clearly Russia had been through some kind of catastrophe, but it does not prevent snowboarders from zooming between destroyed military vehicles; neither does it stop Alexander Ovechkin from dropping his hockey opponents onto the frozen asphalt of Moscow streets.
The main attraction of the video – Ovechkin’s toothless smile, and his Olympic uniform, which is the only color component of the video. If you want to find out how Americans envision Russians, do not pay attention to the nonexistent stereotypes with wolves and bears, just watch this minute and 16 seconds of total, full strength “à la Russe”. And he [Ovechkin] is the main character.
The one to whom the last year belonged. And if Russia is very lucky, the one to whom the coming year will belong to as well.