Alex Ovechkin had a pretty fun summer. He married his longtime partner in a lavish wedding, honeymooned in the Maldives, and attended a martial arts event with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
But Ovi’s summer wasn’t all fun and games, as he instituted a new training regimen that has him looking much leaner than previous years. Amidst his revived commitment to becoming a lean mean Russian machine, the Great 8 had a personal visit in Russia from head coach Barry Trotz.
According to NHL.com, general manager Brian MacLellan revealed that Barry Trotz made a trip to Russia specifically to visit Ovechkin.
“Barry visited his family in Russia two months ago. He met with him,” MacLellan said. “We had the strength trainer and everybody, the organization, has been in contact with him.”
This isn’t the first time that Ovechkin has been visited in his homeland by a Capitals coach. In 2013, the season before being fired as the team’s head coach, Adam Oates spent some time with Ovechkin in Russia. When speaking about the visit later, Oates said he showed Ovechkin “some of the places he had success on the ice he might not have known about” and that the two had worked on Ovi’s power play strategy.
While we don’t know much about Trotz’s visit with Ovi, we do know that Oates and Ovechkin had some fun together during the former head coach’s short trip. Oates got the full Ovechkin experience, complete with Hookah pipes (“I should have taken a picture with a Hookah pipe in my mouth, I’m so dumb,” Oates said) and plenty of alcohol. After their dinner together, Oates joked “Ovi got the check; I think I was too drunk to sign it.”
The pair’s visit got cut short, however, by a call from Putin, who requested that Ovechkin come to Sochi to promote the Olympic games that would be held there the next year.
Trotz’s visit to Ovechkin in Russia is evidence of the coaching staff’s commitment to making Ovi fitter and faster than before. Last season Ovechkin officially weighed in at 239lbs and registered only 33 goals, his third-lowest goal total in his professional career.
“We’ve discussed it,” MacLellan said when speaking to NHL.com earlier this month. “The game is getting faster and he’s getting older. He needs to adjust to the speed level of the game to be an effective player going forward here.”
There’s no doubt that a trip all the way to Russia made that quite clear to Ovi.
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