Russian-born left winger Alexander Ovechkin is a National Hockey League player for the Washington Capitals and widely regarded as one of the top ice hockey practitioners in the world.
Son of Olympic gold medallist Tatyana Ovechkin and professional football player Michael Ovechkin, Alexander Ovechkin showed an inclination towards ice hockey from an early age, attending ice-hockey lessons at just seven years old. Ovechkin trained with Dynamo Moscow (the Moscow-based Superleague ice hockey club) from childhood, playing his inaugural Superleague game at the tender age of sixteen. That same year, Ovechkin also represented Russia in the World Under-18 Junior Ice Hockey Championships, scoring a hat trick against both Switzerland and the USA to help lead the Russian team to gold medal victory. During the Championships, Ovechkin scored a total of fourteen goals and four assists, an under-18 Championship record that remains unbeaten.
After his contribution to Russia’s gold medal achievement, Ovechkin was invited to play in the Ceska Poistovna Eurotour Tournament the following year – the youngest player to represent Russia on the Eurotour and the youngest Russian player ever to have scored in the tournament. In 2003, after being named Left-Wing of the Superleague, Ovechkin was selected to captain the Junior national team, playing in his first World Cup the following year. At the age of 19, Ovechkin captained his final Junior World Championships, leading his team to a silver medal. Ovechkin scored seven goals and was named best forward of the tournament, unsurprisingly also being named in the All-Star team.
Move to America
After three years with Dynamo Moscow, and as the youngest player to top the Dynamo Moscow goal-scoring rankings, the Russian Left-Wing made the decision to move from the Russian Superleague to North America’s NHL (regarded as the best ice hockey league in the world). In 2004 Ovechkin was selected to play for the Washington Capitals, although disputes over pay saw the NHL lockout (when a season’s play was cancelled) and Ovechkin did not play his first Capitals game until the beginning of the 2005-06 season.
Ovechkin played his inaugural game with the Washington team against the Columbus Blue Jackets, scoring two goals and leading the Capitals to a 3-2 victory over the Ohio team. Later that year, after scoring the winning goal in a tense game against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Ovechkin was named Rookie of the Month for the first time. Just a month later, in January 2006, Ovechkin was named Rookie of the Month again, following his hat-trick for Washington against Anaheim. That same month, Ovechkin scored what is now remembered as one of the most momentous goals in ice-hockey history, when, after being knocked down by a defence from the opposing team, Ovechkin managed to hook the puck with just one hand and slide it skilfully into the goal. The magnificent goal gained Ovechkin the NHL Offensive Player of the Month award for January 2006, only the third time any player had been awarded two honours in the same month.
During his inaugural year with the Washington Capitals, Ovechkin also played in a number of significant tournaments for Russia, most notably when he represented his home country in the Men’s World Ice Hockey Championships in Austria. Ovechkin scored five goals and three assists, putting him in third place on the championship goal scorer list and contributing to his team’s third place finish. At the World Championships a year later, Ovechkin scored six goals and three assists and, despite Russia’s elimination from the competition in the quarter finals, Ovechkin was one of six players selected for the Media All-Star team. That same year, Ovechkin also played in his first Winter Olympic Games, scoring five goals and being selected for the All-Tournament team, the only non-Scandinavian player to be selected that year.
At the end of the 2006 season, Ovechkin had scored more goals and points than any 2000-2006 NHL rookie and had made the second highest points score in Washington Capital’s history. His consistent achievement during his first season at Washington saw the Russian capture the Calder Memorial Trophy, a Russian honour which is always awarded to the NHL rookie of the year. At the end of the season, Ovechkin was also selected to the 2007 NHL All-Star game in Texas, the first NHL rookie to participate in the game for fifteen years, made more significant when Ovechkin scored his first ever All-Star goal during the game. Following his performance in the high profile game, EA Sports selected Ovechkin as the cover athlete for NHL 2007.
During his professional career Ovechkin has received a number of awards for his sporting achievements:
- Best Left Wing in the Russian Superleague – 2001-02
- Selected for the NHL First All-Star Team – 2005-06, 2006-07
- Calder Memorial Trophy (NHL Rookie of the Year) – 2005-06
- NHL Rookie of the Month – December 2005 and January 2006
- NHL Offensive Player of the Month – January 2006
- NHL Offensive Player of the Week – Week ending December 31, 2005 and week ending January 23, 2006
- Selected for the Media All-Star Team, World Championships – 2005
- Kharlamov Trophy, Best Russian Player – 2005-06, 2006-07
- World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, Best Forward – 2005
- Selected for the Winter Olympics, All-Tournament Team – 2006
- Men’s World Ice Hockey Championships, All-Star Team – 2006
In his short career Ovechkin has broken a number of ice-hockey records.
World Ice-hockey records
- Most shots on goal by a rookie – 425 (2005-06)
- Most regular season points by a Russian-born rookie – 106 points
- Most regular season points by a NHL left-wing rookie – 106 points
- Fastest overtime goal – 6 seconds (2006)
Washington Capital records
- Most career penalty shots attempted – 3
- Most season goals by a rookie (2005-06) – 52
- Most season assists by a rookie (2005-06) – 54
- Most season points by a rookie (2005-06) – 106
- Point streak by a rookie – 11 games
- Point streak by a rookie to start season – 8 games
- Goal streak by a rookie – 7 games