I enjoyed my 20 minutes or so with Alex Ovechkin when he visited Bristol, Conn., last week.
He was at ESPN headquarters to film one of those "This Is SportsCenter" commercials that have been so popular over the years. The general concept is Ovi and Semyon Varlamov (who was also in Bristol) are Russian spies. I'm told it turned out well.
Ovechkin gave me some time for a light-hearted interview. He was congenial, friendly and sensitive to the space around him. At times, he went out of his way to ensure no one else went out of their way to treat him differently. He is a hockey player. At one point, he was texting on his BlackBerry.
I asked him, "Do you text in Russian or English?" He replied, "Both."
He has an interesting body. He has a big head that appeared to be sprouting a couple of gray hairs. His hair was implausibly devoid of any style whatsoever; it was Russian Caveman hair. When he looked at me, making sure he understood my every word, he had a look on his face at times like he was about to eat the face off my skull. His body is wide and thick up top, and with that head on top of his torso he almost appeared to be an upside-down triangle. It explains the power behind his freight-train hits we see on highlight packages. If he bumped into you, you would go down, and then he would smile that toothless grin and help you up.
You can watch our interview here. I know he might seem quiet and uninterested on tape, but you would have a different opinion in person. He thought about the questions and had a wiry smile throughout. He is self-effacing and playful. You would love hanging around Ovechkin. He's a cool dude.
About the body "almost appeared to be an upside-down triangle"... I think it's how most of hockey players are built, their legs are the main and huge part of their bodies.
About the gray hair... Ovi said his Dad had gray hair at 25, the same age Ovi is now.
H/t to our reader O.