Photo: Amanda Bowen
At last year’s All-Star draft in Columbus, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin went on a passionate, and at times bizarre, quest to get picked last and win a new car. Ovechkin, who already has a fleet of sport and luxury vehicles at home, did not need another automobile. Viewers at home thought it was a long, elaborate joke.
In the end however, Ovechkin’s quest to win a free car was one of the most charitable and kind moments of the NHL season. Ovechkin was not picked last, but when Honda learned of his idea– to donate the car to Ann Schaab and the American Special Hockey Association’s Washington Ice Dogs — the car company happily agreed to do so, setting up an event a month later at a local dealership.
In interviews with ASHA officials and volunteers, I learned that Ovechkin’s gesture had a profound and long-lasting impact on the team and the organization that benefits special needs hockey players.
When we last heard from Nate Schmidt, the Minnesota native was geeking out over the impending snow storm and naming his personal Caps snowball fight dream team.
On Monday, NHL.com’s Katie Brown caught up with Schmidt after the Capitals’ first practice since the blizzard and asked Schmidt about how he spent his days off. Apparently, the Caps defenseman took to the streets of Clarendon, Virginia with a close friend.
Last week Alex Ovechkin captivated the hockey world when he became the fifth fastest player in NHL history to score 500 goals. That excitement got the attention of pizza titan Papa John’s Pizza, who announced Thursday that they have signed the extremely marketable Ovechkin to a multi-year endorsement deal.
Like Ovechkin’s style, the partnership is creative, so all of humankind will benefit. Papa John’s will kick off the partnership with a promotion, The Ovechkin Wish Special. If you buy two medium, one-topping pizzas, $1 from the purchase will be donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Mid-Atlantic chapter. Of course it would.
“Ovi really enjoys kids and, as everyone has seen, he loves bringing smiles and laughter to their faces – and for some, making their dreams come true,” Ovechkin’s agent David Abrutyn said to me in a phone interview Wednesday evening. “This partnership with Papa John’s is a great way for him and fans throughout the DC region to help do more of those great things.”
But let me talk about the price for a minute. Each pizza (in the $16 promotion) costs you $8. If you’re a dedicated Ovechkin fan, you will celebrate your first order by taking the pizzas out of the box and laying them next to each other so that they form a #8 on your dinner table.
On Monday morning, Nate Schmidt sat down with a sigh in his stall in the locker room at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. After having an off day on Sunday, Washington had just concluded a hard, training camp-style practice. Schmidt, though, claimed he had other reasons for being zapped.
“I usually get my energy from being outside and it’s been raining,” he told Katie Brown of NHL.com.
Schmidt is a fun guy and a great hockey player. He’s also American, which means unlike most Capitals players he celebrates our annual feast. Last Thursday, he visited some extended family in Virginia. There, Schmidt had a “double dinner” at two and seven, taking “an absolutely comatose nap” in between.
Caps players Peter Bondra and Michal Pivoňka pose with Ellis and his Ashburn Ice House-sponsored car.
There’s a reason why race car drivers thank companies before family members in post-race interviews: they are the main reason they have a seat. This Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway, Ryan Ellis, a die-hard Caps fan and RMNB reader from Ashburn, will get a shot in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the sport’s top level. The 25-year-old will drive the Circle Sport #33 Chevy SS, sponsored by the Reston-based IT firm Science Logic, in the penultimate race of the season.
“I’m really, really freaking excited,” Ellis told me last month.
Photo: Geoff Burke
Tom Wilson is now in his third full NHL season. He was supposed to be bruising power forward and a complement to top-six playmakers. Instead, the 16th overall pick in 2012 has been a fourth line agitator almost his entire career, fighting and hitting to try to get himself noticed in limited ice time.
On Saturday night, that almost cost the Capitals the game as Wilson, recently demoted back down to the bottom trio, took a double minor for roughing that put his team a man down late in the game. The Maple Leafs scored on the power play that followed, giving themselves a 2-1 lead that would gotten them the victory if not for a stunning goal by Nicklas Backstrom with less than a second left.
“When emotions get tied into close games, that’s how you don’t play,” Barry Trotz said of Wilson’s tomfoolery. “That’s why Tom never saw the ice again. He knows that and hopefully he learns from that.”
On Thursday the Capitals held their annual season-ticket holder party at Six Flags America. Two and a half years after performing the greatest soccer trick shot in carnival game history, Alex Ovechkin moved his talents to the whack-a-mole station. Naturally, he dominated.
Here’s the essential (but vertical) video from Melissa Allen.
Photo: NY Times
Alex Ovechkin has been an elite goal scorer since he first set foot in the NHL. He’s also has been one of the most feared body checkers in the league too. For instance, in Ovechkin’s first game as a Capital 10 years ago, he dislodged a pane of glass while hitting a Columbus Blue Jacket player behind the net.
In an interview with Graham Bensinger (which airs in its entirety this weekend), Ovechkin was asked what his biggest hit was.
“Probably [Jaromir] Jagr in Olympics,” Ovechkin said.
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