tclakin

Why I Love Alexander Ovechkin (Unless the Bruins play the Caps, In Which Case I Hate Him)

In Uncategorized on May 6, 2009 at 2:20 am

Alexander Ovechkin terrifies me, and here’s why:  If Ovechkin’s Capitals hold off the Pens and the Bruins shake off their Game 2 hangover and beat the Canes, the two teams could have a realistic shot of meeting in the Eastern Conference Finals. A dream scenario for any Bruins fan, except for this one little problem –

I actually like Alexander Ovechkin.

I can’t help it. He personifies exactly what I want superstar athletes to be: a historical talent, flashy, in-your-face, cocky, ruthless – basically, better than everyone and not afraid to let them know it. Some argue that he doesn’t play the game the right way, that he’s too arrogant, too grandiose, too much of an attention hog.  I couldn’t care less. I’ve always had a soft spot for the bombastic star, the guy who will talk all day about how good he is and then go out and prove it on the court, or on the field, or in the ring. I love the Muhammad Ali’s, the Deion Sanders’, the Michael Jordan’s, the Larry Bird’s – and I think Ovechkin fits squarely into that mold. He’s the best, and he knows it.

And the fact is, he is the best. He’s got it all – he is, quite simply, the perfect combination of superstar character traits. Don’t believe me? I humbly submit the following list of Ovechkin’s superstar ingredients:

Gretzky’s Talent – Without a huge helping of innate talent, Johnny Hockey Player has no chance of becoming a superstar. That’s just a fact. Fortunately for Ovechkin, the Hockey Gods blessed him with a rare combination of speed, finesse, and power that only comes around every once in a while. Last year, his third year in the league, he netted 65 goals. At times it seems as if he can score at will. Watching him out there on the ice, you can’t help but think to yourself, Man, he’s good. If Ovechkin stays healthy I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him make a run at some of the Great One’s records.

Tiger’s Fire – When I think of Tiger Woods, one of the first things that comes to mind are his manic fist pumps after big shots. Like Jordan, he’s the ultimate competitor, wanting always to succeed when the stakes are highest and when he does, he explodes. Enter Ovechkin. The guy’s p0stgoal celebrations are a thing of beauty. You would think he’d just won the lottery every time he nets one, and he does so about 55-60 times a year. This is one of the things people like least about him, at least in the media and on NHL message boards. To that I say, why? How can you fault a guy for playing the game with emotion? Give me the guy who is fired up when he scores every day and twice on Sunday, over the Barry Sanders “put your head down and hand the ball to the referee” type. That kind of thing does nothing for me, convinced as I am that it comes more out of an arrogant self-righeousness than any form of humility. I want to see some passion when I’m watching sports, and no one does passion better than Ovechkin (except every single member of the Bruins).

Jordan’s Competitiveness – Michael Jordan was famous for his brutal desire to win at all costs. He had little regard for anything else when he was on the court and he seemed to compete on a separate, much angrier level than everyone else.  When asked about his aggressive play during Game 2 of the Penguins-Capitals blockbuster series, Alexander Ovechkin had this to say:

“Of course, this is a game, this is playoffs. There are no friends here, no people you know. You are fighting for the Stanley Cup and you have to win every battle, every moment. I don’t look into his eyes, or other players’ eyes. I don’t pay any attention to other team’s players. I care about my teammates. (Quote from Yahoo’s Puck Daddy blog)

That quote could have come directly from MJ himself. You can almost picture him glaring at Ahmad Rashad or Marv Albert and saying, “There are no friends here.” Clearly, Ovechkin wants a Cup –  friends, enemies and especially Sidney Crosby be damned. When the best want it the most, look out. MJ would be proud.

Prime Time’s Flash – Ahh, possibly my favorite category. When I was ten or eleven, there was nothing – and I mean nothing – better than watching Deion Sanders pick off a pass, weave in and out of would-be tacklers for 60 yards while holding the ball in one hand like a loaf of bread, and then highstep it into the end zone. Even better was when he would then break into his patended touchdown dance and finish it off with a spike. He was the best. Recently Ovechkin has threatened to enter Prime Time territory, at least by NHL standards. When he scored his 50th goal of the season, he followed with a postgoal celebration that only Deion himself could have rivaled. Winding around behind the goal, Ovechkin laid his stick on the ice and started rubbing his hands together over it and jumping up and down, implying that his stick was “on fire”. Cue it:

The move sparked debate across the hockey world, with some calling Ovechkin a flashy prima donna (see: Don Cherry and his ironic penchant for gaudy suits) and others hailing him as an innovator. I, for one, loved it and hope he takes a shot at the Deion highstep. High stepping on ice while wearing skates? That would be legendary.

Rodney Harrison’s Aggressiveness – This is probably Ovechkin’s most unheralded quality. The guy simply loves to hit people. He plays much bigger than he is, employing a hard-checking, physical brand of hockey. He’s thought of as a goal scorer, but like Harrison, he has a nose for the action and has no problem going full-speed ahead directly into the puck handler. Many hockey scorers are just that – scorers – and nothing more. Ovechkin not only rips vicious wristers, he also hands out vicious hits. Compare him with a guy like Sidney “Cindy” Crosby, and Ovechkin’s ice presence becomes even more impressive.

The bottom line is this – in Alexander Ovechkin you have a hockey player who combines Gretzkyian talent with Harrison’s muscle, MJ’s fierce competitiveness with Tiger’s fire, and he caps  it off with Prime Time’s showmanship. Say what you want about the guy but the fact remains: the NHL desperately needs players like him. We’re talking about a professional league that has gone through a lockout, experienced dwindling attendance numbers, has had it’s rivalries and passion sucked dry by expansion and Bettman the Bonehead, and who’s games are relegated to a hunting and fishing network called Versus  that barely anyone gets and even fewer know how to find. Let’s face it – Ovechkin is good for the league. He is fundamentally helping hockey, and as long as he’s doing that, how can you not love him?

I do.

(Unless of course the Capitals end up playing the Bruins – in which case Ovechkin is just an overrated, visor-wearing, puck-hog pansy.)

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  1. Just a huge fan of Ovechkin…just a complete animal. I did hear through the grapevine that he is a heavy metal fan. Still trying to figure out the alias of the author of the blog..could i get a confirm on ovechkins music genres and a name for this dominate blogger

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