Not sure. (Photo: championat.com)
Before getting injured on Sunday by German enforcer Markus Kink, Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin was having a splendid World Championships. Team Russia, for whom he is captain, is undefeated in six games with a plus-23 goal differential — the highest in the tournament. Ovechkin ranks second in points in the tournament. Plus, he got to ride a tank and shoot off guns and stuff.
Speaking to reporters for twenty minutes on Friday, Ovechkin spoke about a wide range of fun topics. He talked about his duties as captain for Team Russia, his on- and off-again relationship with Evgeni Malkin, and if he’d ever leave for the KHL. Ovechkin also was asked about his upcoming wedding (which, c’mon, that’s inevitable) and his ideal linemates. He really misses Sasha Minor and Sergei.
RMNB’s Igor Kleyner has translated most of the press conference, transcribed by Sport-Express, below.
There are rumors that you may follow Kovalchuk’s footsteps and leave the NHL.
Alex Ovechkin: They are speculations, first and foremost, by the journalists.
Dot the ‘i’s please. Was there a conflict with Malkin in Sochi?
AO: Everything is all right. We have a good relationship. He is going to come here and help us.
Do you interact with him during the NHL season?
AO: No. Everybody has their own schedule. But whenever Pittsburgh comes to Washington or the other way around, we get together, talk.
You were in a bad mood in Sochi. Has it changed here in Minsk?
AO: Why was the mood bad in Sochi?
You were losing; your play wasn’t coming together…
AO: You can’t compare the Olympics and Worlds. It’s a different level. Everything is different in Sbornaya now. The coaches, the game. And the mood… it was good there and here. Although there have been moments in my career when I wanted to end it. The Olympic defeat, in the playoffs, nothing was working. There was a huge psychological pressure on me. But then time goes by and you realize you need to put all the negatives aside.
Last year you were in the same situation as Malkin. Like him, you were knocked out of the playoffs and came to the Worlds in a bad mood. Can you find any words of comfort for him?
AO: Of course it’s not pleasant to lose in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but I don’t think Evgeny needs to be comforted. He wants to end the season on a victorious note. That’s why he is coming to Minsk.
As a captain, do you work with the team’s young players?
AO: It’s very important to communicate. During the game, and especially before the game. I give them advice on where to go. And they give me advice as well. Because we are a team of 25 people. When — 10 years ago — I had my Worlds debut, there were experienced veterans on that team – Yashin, Tverdovsky, even Kovalchuk had already played in a few tournaments. I paid attention to what they said. I remember how Viktor Tikhonov invited me to Sbornaya when I was 16. I entered the locker room and got nervous. I remember my first goal for Sbornaya. I scored on an empty net.
Do you get out in the city in Minsk? What do you do in free time?
AO: We are mostly sitting in our hotel rooms like little mice. No time to go to a casino. We play PlayStation; Kuzya sneaked in his console.
During the tour of Stalin Line, it appears you and Kuznetsov are of similar temperament.
AO: Yes, we interact constantly when we are in Washington. He lived at my house for a while. We also have a great relationship with Dima Orlov.
And what about Belarussian Grabovski? Is he a part of your group?
AO: Mishanya? Of course. But he is from a different sbornaya.
Are you going to the World Cup in Brazil?
AO: That’s the plan. I want to go to Brazil, watch our team and the others as well. But I don’t know if it’ll work out.
When is your wedding with Maria Kirilenko?
AO: We are getting there. There is no date yet.
Why not in exotic Brazil?
AO: Because she can’t come there, she has tournaments.
Do you agree that Russian players are treated with prejudice in North America? Pittsburgh lost in the playoffs, and they are screaming “Trade Malkin!” you scored 51 goals during the regular season, but the talk is the same: “Let’s trade Ovechkin!”
AO: Everybody– a coach, an expert, a journalist, or a fan– wishes the best for his team. That’s the reason you may hear such a call for a trade.
Is there a player you dream about playing with?
AO: [Sergei] Fedorov. I would put him at center. On the right– Sema [Alex Semin’s nickname].
Ovechkin’s crazy hair from the press conference. (Photo: @boogaard1975)