Tuesday at noon, Swedish center Nicklas Backstrom will be playing in his first game since the Caps regular season ended on April 13th. Backstrom will be participating in Brynäs’s Black and White scrimmage – an exhibition that’s been held every year in Sweden since the 1970’s. Backstrom played three seasons for Brynäs as a teenager before being drafted by the Caps.
For those of you who are hockey starved, I’ve got some great news. The scrimmage will be available to be watched live online via a Brynäs stream at noon (as long as that link is not geo-protected).
On Monday, Maria Kirilenkoannounced through R-Sport that she and Alex Ovechkin were dunzo. “There are a lot of reasons, but I wouldn’t want to go in detail,” Kirilenko said, as translated by Fedor Fedin. “I’ll say just that our relationship is over, but I respect Sasha as a person and an athlete and sincerely wish him athletic success in the future.”
Without sharing those details, the gossip hounds turned to speculation.
Case in point: Ovechkin, who is currently vacationing on a French beach, posed in photos that got published on the internet. One person in those photos was gymnast Karolina Sevastyanova. Sevastyanova was scrutinized in particular for a) being a woman, and b) being near Alex in those photos.
A few weeks ago, schools let out in Sweden. But before the kids were freed for the summer, a special scholarship was awarded to two special 16-year-old student athletes, Sebastian Mattson and Julia Holmstrom.
A lot has happened over the last two weeks. Alex Ovechkin received his Rocket Richard Trophy in Las Vegas for scoring the most goals in 2013-14, and new Capitals GM Brian MacLellan started making his mark on the 2014-15 team. GMBM was aggressive in free agency, signing three players: Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen, and Justin Peters.
The Ovechkin clan’s media footprint is usually dominated by Ovi himself. His dad Mikhail is sometimes good at generating a memorable quote or providing unexpected insight as well. But matriarch Tatyana Ovechkina, a two-time Olympic gold medal winner, is actually the family’s most accomplished athlete.
She is currently the President of Dynamo Moscow women’s basketball club, where her older son Mikhail is the Sporting Director. Under their guidance the team has climbed to the top of the European women’s basketball rankings, recently winning the European Cup. At 64 years old, the former captain of the USSR basketball national team is still going strong, but you will not often find her name in the newspapers. One has to go back a few years to find an interview with the mother of the captain of the Washington Capitals; she treats the press corps with a healthy dose of distrust and skepticism.
A few days ago, Russian sports daily Sport-Express ran an in-depth piece by acclaimed journalist Elena Vaytsekhovskaya. Elena also happens to be a former top level athlete herself, having won the gold medal in platform diving at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal – and she’s a close personal friend of Tatyana Ovechkina. In this interview, which we bring to you in translation below, Ovi’s mom talks about her views on money in modern sports, when she expects her son to retire from hockey and even tells us how big Alex the Great was when he was born. [WARNING: That last bit is not for the faint of heart.]
While the Washington Capitals’ past season was an unmitigated disaster, there was one bright spot located about 364 miles northwest of the district in Erie, Pennsylvania. Unheralded 2013 first round draft pick Andre Burakovsky had a breakout year with the OHL’s Erie Otters. His rapid development in Erie could launch him into the NHL next season.
But things could have gone very differently. Last July, after being selected fifth overall by the Otters in the CHL Draft, Burakovsky revealed disappointment with the decision, telling a local reporter, “this is not what I had in mind.” The young Swede, who spent the season before playing for the Malmo Redhawks of the HockeyAllsvenskan, did not want to join the OHL team.
It wasn’t until some convincing from then-GM George McPhee that Burakovsky signed on to play for the Otters, who were led by future 2015 first overall draft pick Connor McDavid.