The 33-year-old hockey phenom best known by his peers and fans as “Ovi” or “The Great Eight” was picked up by the Washington Capitals as the first overall pick in the 2004 NHL draft. For the last 15 years he has been breaking records and picking up accolades—Rookie of the Year and the league’s Most Valuable Player, to name a few. Superlatives for the Russian-born winger are bountiful and growing. Last season, his sheer talent, leadership skills and contagious energy contributed to the Capitals first Stanley Cup win in its 44- year franchise history. 2018 proved a big year for Ovechkin as he and his wife Anastasia Shubskaya also welcomed a baby boy in the fall. They named him Sergei after Ovechkin’s brother, who was killed in a car accident. What’s next for the gap-toothed hockey sensation and father? Caps fans can’t wait to find out.
Washington Life: I know I speak for the city as a whole when I say how special it has been welcoming the Stanley Cup to Washington. What was your favorite memory from winning the championship?
Alex Ovechkin: Honestly, it is everything. From the moment we won, it was just an incredible experience. Lifting the Cup for the first time on the ice was something so special and something I will never forget. It was unbelievable.
WL: What was it like bringing the trophy back to your home country of Russia?
Alex Ovechkin: It was great and something I always dreamed of. To be able to bring it home to where I grew up, to my hockey school, seeing the young kids and the joy it brought them, was incredible. My parents were able to hold it, touch it and kiss it … it was something that was so special for all of us.
WL: For the last decade plus there has been constant noise about the Caps not being able to beat the Penguins, not being able to get to the conference finals, not being able to win a championship … How much of that did you hear, and does this year feel different?
Alex Ovechkin: I think last year we were just relaxed… we just played our game and enjoyed ourselves. We didn’t’ feel any pressure. We had great chemistry in our locker room. Everyone pushed and helped each other and that was important. Playoffs are all about getting bounces at the right time and last year we were finally able to have some bounces go our way.
WL: What’s it like defending the cup instead of chasing it?
Alex Ovechkin: It’s a great challenge and something we, as a team, embrace. It’s hard to win in the NHL, but we are going to do everything we can to defend our title.
WL: Who has the best set up pass for your patented slap shot from the Ovi spot?
Alex Ovechkin: Nicklas Backstrom knows my game well. We played for a long time together. Now, the way our power play works, John Carlson is great at passing me the puck at the right time.
WL: There have been some funny stories about your game day routines. Can you tell us about them?
Alex Ovechkin: I drink Coke… pre-game, I always eat pasta from our team chef. They do a good job taking care of us.
WL: You have been in Washington for close to 15 years. what is your favorite thing about this city?
Alex Ovechkin: I love playing and living in D.C. It’s my second home. I love the people here. I go to Georgetown a lot and love that area.
WL: You recently welcomed a baby. How are you enjoying being a father?
Alex Ovechkin: It’s fantastic. I love being a dad.
Alex Ovechkin’s top spots in and around Washington:
Mama Lucia’s has enjoyed free publicity from the hockey superstar who is known to put down a big plate of the local Italian eatery’s chicken parmesan before big games.
Georgetown Waterfront is a favorite for Ovechkin, who drew crowds last June when he and teammates brought the Stanley Cup trophy to Tony & Joes and took a dip in the courtyard’s fountain.
For date nights Ovechkin and his wife try to mix it up between Tysons Corner and the Georgetown Waterfront.