Alex Ovechkin's online chat with the readers of Sovetsky Sport. May 14, 2010.
What do you think about the video, which appeared on the Internet? On that video our hockey players are smoking! What is your attitude towards the paparazzi?
I don't like when we they film you from the bushes or behind the light poles. And then they post it on the Internet and poke the finger, "These are the bad guys." Yes, the Russian national team players are public people. But each of us is also a person like anybody else, just like you. Everyone has his own head on his shoulders. And he knows what to do and how to spend free time. If you want, you can smoke and drink. This is a personal matter. When you start making bad plays in hockey, it is becoming your problem. You are a professional, and you are responsible for your body.
Alex Semin was seen smoking in Washington, DC, nothing new. [tj]
But the Russian national team wins, and you score in every game.
Guys, I don't look at these photos and posts on the Internet the way that if someone is sitting in a restaurant and would drink a couple glasses of beer, and then somebody would take pictures of him and that's all, he is Judas, he should be kicked out of the team. We have done nothing criminal. We are all human. And it must be understood.
Many fans ask why we lost the Olympics? It's been three months already. Ilja Bryzgalov aptly said that the Canadians jumped us like gorillas from the cage. And what are we, plush toys?
I do not want to talk about it. Why rake up the past? What was there is gone now. I am trying to remember which gorillas at that time ran out at us... Hockey players must be able to switch from such thing. If we now think about the Olympics we'll play bad at the World Championships.
I understand that the fans will long remember how we failed in Vancouver. But we tried. We didn't just go there to get the Olympic uniforms for free and then go back to our clubs and play hockey. We have not succeeded. What can we do about it now?
You said after the quarterfinal with Canada, "We are well aware that now a lot of mud will be poured at us. So in fact that happened. What can you say to the fans?
People who have poured mud and said bad things are not real fans. This is the crowd who behave like the weathervane. If everything is good with us today, they are with us, if tomorrow it's bad, they turn away. I think this is stupid. I do not understand these people. The real fans will never cast a stone at you when you're struggling on the ice and trying to defend the honor of your country. You can't win all the games in a row. At this time there were these circumstances. Yes, we lost... But, guys, don't turn away from your team. This is our team, there's no other one.
Why are you playing in the NHL in a tinted visor, and for the national team it is a visor with no tint?
Because these are the rules. The International Federation insists that visors must be fully transparent. They want to see my eyes.
Who would you have as a center, except Backstrom and Fedorov, playing for the Washington Capitals? How about Crosby?
He's in Pittsburgh, don't you know? I'm totally satisfied playing with Backstrom. He is one of the best center forwards in the world.
Are you surprised that Crosby refused to play for Team Canada at the World Championships?
And what's surprising? He had a long season. Maybe he is nursing an injury. How many games he played? 101? See... Too much of overload.
Were you surprised when Montreal knocked out Pittsburgh?
Oh yeah! Canadiens play awesome in the playoffs! I think that San Jose will win the Stanley Cup. But Montreal is doing something unbelievable.
You remind me a young Gordie Howe the way you're playing. The same excitement, the gleam in the eyes, the desire to fight which jump starts the crowd. But after you were suspended for two games you started to play more cautiously. Why?
Because I understood that if this situation would happen again I would receive even bigger suspension. For example, for 5 or 10 games. I didn't want it. So I tried not to look for trouble. But I am still trying to play as before.
Do you have to change yourself?
I felt a little uncomfortable from this feeling. But hopefully next season all old sins will be annulled.
Why the players, in contrast to the goalkeepers, can't do the drawings on the helmets? If you were allowed, what would you draw? Maybe another vicious lamb like you had on your skates in Vancouver?
It would be interesting if it would be allowed. But then it would have been a circus. Imagine watching these colorful tops from the upper seats of the arena? If allowed, I could really depict something like the evil sheep.
Don't you think that the sheep-devil picture jinxed you?
I'm not so superstitious. But the mysticism or not, those blades in one of the Olympic games were destroyed. And they are currently under reconstruction to take place at the home museum. I am not going to use them again. I am finished...
...With other creations? Here at this World Cup you did not come up with anything.
I am finished with these blades. As of creativity it will continue. I simply didn't have any time. My team unexpectedly got knocked out of the Stanley Cup, and I flew to Moscow.
What would you be doing if I you did not become a hockey player?
I would work as a journalist. Would be sitting now on the spot Sovietsky Sport reporter. And pestering Alexander Semin. Speaking of which, here he is. Would you reply to me, Sema? "No comments!" said Semin [In English! - tj] and waved his hand. "No interviews today. Who makes up all these questions?"
Here we have a typical athlete! (Ovechkin laughs).
What is your favorite food? And drink? Do you want to spend this summer in St. Petersburg? [a question from a girl - tj]
I will come to St. Petersburg, this summer exactly. We can go together to a restaurant and order something. We'll choose from the menu. (Ovechkin smiles).
[a question from another girl - tj]:
My Mom and I have a couple of questions and an offer. How's Byasha? Does he has a girlfriend? You have a lamb, we have the business offer called "The lambs from Ovechkin." [Playing with words, the lambs from Lamb or something like that -tj] We will help you become a champions sheep breeder!
I have to upset you, Byasha is a girl. She needs a friend, not a girlfriend. Byasha was given to me by red-haired Andrey Grigoriev-Apollonov from Ivanushki. The business offer, of course, is interesting. But I'm going to do the animal breeding after a hockey career. We'll breed the sheep, the donkeys. We'll open our own farm.
How long did you work on your wrist shot? What exercises did you do?
You have to start working on it from childhood. You need to develop a technique and go with it, don't break it, because when you grow up, the strength will come, the wrist shot becomes more powerful. As a child I shoot the puck at the fences and sheds. My father and I would paint the nets and shoot. We worked on accuracy, the power will come with age.
Where are the trophies that are given to you in your career? Do you receive a bonus for extra points?
The trophies are stored in my parent's Moscow apartment. There we have a museum. As of goals and assists, they are important for me from a moral point of view. This season I scored 50 goals. It is worth a lot. Doing it every year, as once Pavel Bure did, is a feat.
And what about the incentive to score 51st goal? Then you would have received the Maurice Richard Trophy for the best sniper of the league.
The incentive was there, of course. But I missed a lot of games due to injury and suspensions. It crippled my stats.
Are you are registered in social networks, "V kontakte (In Touch)" or "Odnoklassniki (Classmates)?"
I won't give you my user id, but I have one at "Odnoklassniki (Classmates)". I like to relax there after the games, chat with friends. Some people know how to find me. A more amusing that there are a lot of my fakes. The fans register as Alexander Ovechkin and write something on my behalf. I have seen probably 20 fake Ovechkins.
How do you react to it?
I don't react at all. I just ignore it.
Your dad said you want to have six children. Is this true?
Dad said so? Six? Wow! I'll have to discuss this with my wife. Future wife. But in general I want a lot of children, like Ilya Kovalchuk. The more the better. It would be hard for my wife, but let's not make a conjecture. I'm still not married.
You are 25. And you have some gray hair...
Come on! I haven't had enough yet to tie the knot.
What do you think about now OHK Dynamo? Do you still consider it your alumni club?
The hockey school that I went through is still there. Why not then? The hockey club Dynamo is still here. They just combined the two teams, it won't hurt either. I think it's only for the better. If Dynamo fell apart due to the lack of financing, it needed a support it received.
Will you, as before, train in the summer in Novogorsk?
I don't even know the new club's president, Mikhail Tyurkin. And I haven't planned yet how I will do the summer training. Let's just finish this season first.
What nickname do you prefer: Alex, Ovi or Alexander the Great?
Everybody calls me Ovi. I've already got used to it.
Would you come to the team if you were, like Kovalchuk, without a contract? [Same for Gonchar - tj]
My contract is valid for the next 11 years, so I don't think about. But I respect the guys like Kovalchuk or Afinogenov even more. They risk for the sake of the national team. They are the men!
Would you like to become a coach in the future, like Vyacheslav Bykov? And why did you choose to be a forward?
I started playing hockey at the position of center forward, and then moved to the left wing. I can become a Coach in the future. I even have a diploma from RGUFK [The Russian college for physical education, coaching, etc.]. It is possible that after this career I can do it. But so far I am only 25 years old. Everything is just beginning.
"And I'm sure that after his career Ovechkin will become a poet," added Semin with a straight face. "Like Alexander Pushkin. And then he will have four official wives."
Would you like to get U.S. citizenship?
So far no plans. Yes, it's easier to freely travel around the world with an American passport. But the situation with Pavel Datsyuk, when he had to go for Schengen Visa to Moscow is an isolated case. It's convenient to have an American passport for some, and not for others. Personally I am happy with my Russian citizenship. And with the Russian passport I can fly anywhere.
How do you to explain the failure of the U.S. team? After all, all their players are from the NHL.
Nobody is watching the World Cup in America. It's only in Canada where TSN shows something. But everyone can see that the Americans did not bring any of those hockey players that played at the Olympics. They put together young rookies, to get experience for those guys. This failure has not become a tragedy to anyone in US.
Will you follow the World Cup soccer tournament? For what team will you root in the absence of Russia?
Absolutely! I will support team Brazil, and team England. There will be no Beckham, but Ronaldinho is in reserve and can still get to the World Cup.
When will you insert the tooth?
I have one. I just do not wear it.
If you know that tomorrow is the end of the world, how will you spend the rest of the day?
I would try those things that I have not yet tried. I'll take off from here to Holland and carouse... But seriously I would get a ticket from Cologne to Moscow and spent time with my parents and close friends.
One of the Canadians said that a good NHL player has one superfeint the defenseman can't cope with. The star player has two of those feints, a megastar such as Bobby Hull had three and Valeri Kharlamov had at least four. How many do you have, Alexander?
I don't know. I love to move the puck under myself, for example. In general I am improvising on the ice. It depends on whatever happens on the ice and then I'll do it. And sometimes I use just one feint. The most reliable one.
I look at you and you look like a Russian bear. Good bear! Hence the question, do you like honey?
Not really. It has cloying sweetness.
Were you offered to star in the movies?
Yes, but I don't want to spend time on it.
What was the role? Like Valuev in a "Stone head"?
No, the shepherd who walks in the mountains with the sheeps from Ovechkin. [playing with words: the sheeps from Sheep, or something like that :-) - tj]
You are driving a sports coupe in the city. And you see at the bus stop your best friend, a dream girl and grandmother. Who would you take in the car?
Why do I need take someone?
It's raining with the hail.
But they are at the bus stop. They can hide.
There's no roof.
I'll put grandmother next to me. And a dream girl with the friend in the trunk. They will have something to talk about. (laughs)
Sovietsky sport asked Alexander Ovechkin fill out our questionnaire to name all that he loves.
What hit is now playing in your head?
"I'll get in the car, drive on a serpentine. To the sea that beautiful, we'll meet at Portofine..." Ovechkin sings almost as Zhanna Friske.
Who is your favorite DJ?
You favorite vehicle?
I like Mercedes and BMW. In Moscow I have all my cars at my dacha. I wake up and take one for a spin depending on the mood. I'd grab the keys and fly to Moscow on business.
Your favorite food?
All that mom cooks. Let it be pelmeni.
Your favorite resort?
I don't change, it's Turkey.
What radio station is playing in your car?
I usually connect the iPod and listen to my favorite songs. "I'll get in the car, drive on a serpentine," sings Ovechkin again almost like Zhanna Friske.
Your favorite TV show?
"Wait for me." (laughs). But seriously I like to watch the news on Channel One. Even in America I want to know what is happening in Russia.
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