Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin got nostalgic Tuesday while speaking about Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine. The Russian machine was Laine’s favorite player growing up as a kid.
“I’m not that old, but it’s nice to hear that from different players, that I was his idol or something like that,” Ovechkin said to The Winnipeg Sun’s Ken Wiebe after the Caps’ morning skate. “When I was a little kid, I watched different players as well, and I tried (to) look like them. It’s nice.”
“I’m just trying to hang in there obviously,” Ovechkin continued. “You know, it’s fun to watch those kids, how they play, McDavid, Laine and all those new faces. Hockey, it never stops growing up, and more players come into the league and they play well.”
Laine is currently in an eight-way tie for the league lead in goals with six, while Ovechkin, the reigning Rocket Richard winner, has four goals on the season.
As talk turned to who Ovechkin’s idols were growing up, The Great Eight named multiple NHL players including Owen Nolan, whom he called his favorite in an interview with Graham Bensinger last year. Nolan was the popular captain of the San Jose Sharks from 1998 to 2003.
“Back then, we don’t have a TV,” Ovechkin said of Soviet Russia to The Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan. “We don’t have all the news, but what we heard of was the NHL. Of course, we knew Fedorov, Larionov, Lemieux, Gretzky, and you only watched on videotapes. You know, you buy in the store videotapes with highlights and the goals, like hits and fights and all of that kind of stuff. Obviously, like Lemieux, Iginla, those guys, you know, [Owen] Nolan. My favorite team was San Jose. I was cheering for them, especially when Nolan was there. … You grow up and you watch them and you want to be just like them.”
“Actually, it’s fun story,” Ovechkin continued. “One of my teammates back then wear the hat with a shark, and we were like, ‘What is it?’ Because we don’t know the team. He said it’s the team over in San Jose, so I have a hat, I have a hoodie and like a jacket. Ulf Dahlen, I remember, my dad gave me a jersey of Ulf Dahlen. It was on my wall. That was kind of fun.”
The Swedish-born Dahlen played four seasons with the San Jose Sharks (1993-97) before ironically spending three of his final four seasons in the NHL with the Washington Capitals. A savvy pick up by George McPhee, Dahlen scored 53 goals from the team’s shutdown line that consisted of Steve Konowalchuk and Jeff Halpern.
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