NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was in Washington DC yesterday. While he was in town, he took in the Caps-Pens rivalry game from the owner’s box at Verizon Center. Bettman also held court with the local media.
When asked about the growth of hockey in the DC Area over the last decade, Bettman marveled at the job both Alex Ovechkin and Ted Leonsis have done. Seconded.
“It’s the Ovechkin era and there’s an era that’s a little bit longer than that one and I would call that the [Ted] Leonsis era,” Bettman said beaming. “I think Ted’s ownership of this franchise has been nothing short of phenomenal in terms of how the community has been engaged and in terms of how fans have connected with and interacted with this franchise; the stability of ownership and management has been very important.”
Then it got weird. Bettman credited (I think) definitely-not-Washington Capital Evgeni Malkin.
In the third period of their last game, the Pittsburgh Penguins took a bunch of cheap shots at the Washington Capitals. On Wednesday, as the Caps and Pens prepared to play the final game of their regular-season series, Tom Wilson approached Evgeni Malkin during warm-ups.
And gave him a shove.
For those of you whose lives literally stop until we post about that thing Ovechkin just did on social media, I would like to apologize on behalf of the entire blog for being more than 48 hours late on this article. Please forgive us.
You see, on Saturday, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was hanging out with Evgeni Malkin after the “From Pure Heart” charity hockey game. In a dark room, with the superstars face-to-face, Ovi started filming.
Ovechkin and Alexei Yashin share a laugh before the game. (Photo: R-Sport)
On Saturday, Alex Ovechkin traveled 45 miles from his Moscow home to participate in the fifth iteration of Ilya Kovalchuk’s charity hockey game held in neighboring Chekhov, home of KHL Vityaz. The proceeds of the game, which translates to “From Pure Heart,” raised $16 million rubles (or slightly under $500k dollars) for various orphanages.
Over the weekend, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin posted a shirtless selfie on Instagram. Again. As this is a regular occurrence, I didn’t make much of it, but just in case I asked actual RMNB Russian Igor Kleyner if there was any significance to the photo.
Photo: Justin K. Aller
It is silly to compare Evgeny Malkin (500+ games, Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe, Hart, two Art Ross Trophies) to Evgeny Kuznetsov (one game, 10 minutes on ice)– even if they were born a couple hundred miles away from one other– basically the same neighborhood by Russian standards.
Then again, it’s also fun, which is why people have been doing it for awhile— including Valery Belousov, Kuznetsov’s old coach at Traktor and the man who oversaw Malkin’s development at Magnitogorsk.
In our brief conversation on Sunday, Kuzya flatly dismissed all comparisons to his much more famous namesake. But what does Geno think about it? Well, let’s take a look at today’s edition of Sovetsky Sport, where we find Dmitry Chesnokov’s interview with the Penguins’ star after Monday’s game.
Photo: Chris Gordon
Sunday was Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s first full day as an official Washington Capital, and we were all over it. Our intrepid reporters were at Kettler Capitals Iceplex first thing in the morning, taking photos, and covering his first press conference. But we also got a couple minutes with the man himself to chat in his native tongue.
RMNB’s own Igor Kleyner and Kuznetsov chatted about his first few hours in Washington, expectations for the Penguins game, and comparisons to Evgeni Malkin. Igor’s got your translation below.
It started off so well. Ilya Kovalchuk scored early in the first period of Russia’s quarterfinals game against Finland, but Finland fought back (as good teams do), scoring twice later in the period, including a goal from septuagenarian Teemu Selanne. Finland added another goal in the second period. Russia couldn’t come back. They lost 3-1.
This is no ordinary loss. After getting blown out by Canada in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, this was supposed to be different. Russia was supposed to medal. They were supposed to win gold in front of their home fans.
Instead: sadness, disappointment, blame. Again.
We’ll be updating this post with images and quotes from the players as they come in.
Can someone explain to me if Russian superstars Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin are friends or not? First, they were doods. Then they were enemies. Then Ovi punched Malkin’s agent in the face and things got super awkward. Then they were cool again. When we last re-visited their on-again-off-again whatever-it-is-they-have, they were totally BFF.
In the new age of sports media, if you’re a superstar who has not won a championship or somewhat improved your stats from the year before, you get branded an overpaid heel and get flogged furiously by big-name network TV analysts for not trying hard enough or being too dim to adjust your game. It’s hard to recall now, but there was once a time when Ilya Bryzgalov’s fascination with space was just a personality quirk from an elite goaltender.
But if you’re Alex Ovechkin, a man whose every breath is compared to Canada’s favorite son, Sidney Crosby, a successful position change, an attitude adjustment, and some new hardware still may not guarantee positive reviews from the media.
Let’s take everybody’s favorite oddly dressed, bigoted uncle, Don Cherry, who gave an interview to Sovetsky Sport’s Leonid Varshavsky before game five of the Stanley Cup Finals. While predicting Ovechkin will be even better next season, Cherry still managed to get a couple digs in on Ovi for “taking all the criticism from the press too close to his heart.” How dare he. Also, Cherry has no idea who Maria Kirilenko is.
Igor Kleyner has your translation.
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