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.
Playing Sweden on Saturday, Ovechkin still didn’t feel 100%, but he did switch things up. According to Slava Malamud, Ovi wore a new knee brace. He also tallied an assist in Russia’s 3-1 win over Sweden. Russia will play in the World Championships gold medal game on Sunday.
Ovechkin’s tongue sure does look spry and healthy. (Photo: R-Sport)
For the first time since the Olympics, Russia had both Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin in their line-up. Russia defeated France 3-0, but the two superstars did not skate exclusively together. Malkin was paired with Viktor Tikhonov and Nikolai Kulyomin, while Ovechkin skated on the second line with Sergei Plotnikov and Vadim Shipachyov.
When asked if he was planning to wear the custom-made knee brace the Team Russia medical staff ordered for him, Ovechkin seemed unsure. “I am not wearing any brace,” he said. “They brought it to me, but so far I have not tried the magical brace. Let me repeat, it’s not my knee, but different organs and muscles. I skated today, I have some pain, but of course, it is better than it was the first day.”
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.