WASHINGTON, D.C. — Thursday night at Capital One Arena, Alex Ovechkin was honored pregame for playing in his 1,000th career game. Already scoring 600 career goals and tallying over 500 assists this season, Ovechkin reached the one thousand game plateau earlier in the week, April 1, against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Due to traffic and long lines entering the building, Capital One Arena was only approximately three quarters full of fans during the ceremony, but those who made it inside, were deafening in salute of the franchise’s greatest player of all-time.
As Ovechkin sat on the bench, PA announcer Wes Johnson introduced a powerful tribute video which played on the jumbotron. The video included congratulations from several players and mentors during the Russian machine’s time in the organization and included a few sweet surprises.
Ted Leonsis: On behalf of Washington DC and everyone here at the Washington Capitals, congratulations Alex Ovechkin on reaching yet another milestone: 1,000 games. You’ve spoiled all of us. You’ve spoiled the city. We’re forever grateful for your contributions to our franchise and you’re truly a historic player. I’m looking forward to a 1,000 goals not just a 1,000 games.
Jeff Halpern: Ovi, congrats on 1,000 games. It’s been unbelievable watching you, to be your teammate for part of it. It’s quite an honor. Congratulations. Keep it going.
Evgeny Kuznetsov: Congrats O on 1,000 games. It’s huge. We wish we could play many more games with you. Best of luck to you.
Dmitry Orlov: Hey, Ovi. Congrats on 1,000th NHL game. This is great milestone. Keep going and never stop.
Mike Gartner: Hi, Ovi. It’s Mike Gartner. I just wanted to congratulate you on your 1,000th NHL game. That’s a tremendous NHL milestone and one you should be very proud of. Almost as good as scoring 600 goals in the same length of time. Only a handful of players in the history of the NHL have ever done that. We’re very proud of you: the fans are, the entire Washington Capitals organization. We wish you and your teammates the best for the rest of the season.
Nicklas Backstrom: Hey, Ovi. Congrats. Another NHL milestone. 1,000 NHL games. That’s huge. It’s been great being a part of it. Why stop? Keep going.
But the most emotional words were from Hockey Hall of Famer Sergei Fedorov, one of Ovechkin’s favorite players growing up and a teammate on the Capitals from 2007-09. Growing up in Moscow, Ovechkin frequently wore a Fedorov jersey as a child.
— GIF Grand Maester (@myregularface) November 8, 2015
“Hello, Caps fans. Hello, Alex. I want to congratulate you on reaching this milestone,” Fedorov said. “1,000 games in the NHL is a tremendous achievement and all this time you’ve been one of the best hockey players in the league – justifying your name Alexander The Great. It was a great honor and joy to play with you not only on Capitals but also on Russian national team. I wish you continued success and to reach your ultimate goal: to bring the Stanley Cup to DC.”
Only with the Capitals for a short time, Fedorov had a big impact on the franchise and the team’s Russians, Ovechkin and Alexander Semin. Fedorov’s biggest moment was when he scored a Game Seven game-winning goal against the New York Rangers, pushing the team into the second round all by himself.
Ovechkin also received shoutouts from DC sports stars John Wall, Ryan Kerrigan, and Ryan Zimmerman. “We’re getting really old,” Zimmerman said. Meanwhile the Fort Dupont Cannons and Washington Ice Dogs congratulated Ovechkin. Ann Schaab, who Ovechkin once took on a sushi date, was blunt: “I just want to say I love you.”
After the video played, Ovechkin waved and clapped back toward the crowd, acknowledging what their support meant to him over the years. As Ovechkin joined his wife Nastya Ovechkina on the ice, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly presented the Russian machine with a Tiffay crystal while Capitals president Dick Patrick gave Ovechkin a silver stick.
Alternate captains Nicklas Backstrom and Brooks Orpik saved the best for last. Capitals players bought Ovechkin a trip for two to Barcelona and tickets in the Presidential Suite to see Lionel Messi of LC Barcelona play.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) April 5, 2018
This look said it all.
Ovechkin would later score his 605th career goal as a thank you in the Caps 4-3 loss to the Predators.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) April 6, 2018
Alex Ovechkin of the @Capitals scored his 605th career goal (all w/ WSH) to pass Bobby Hull (604 w/ CHI) for the fifth-most in NHL history with one franchise. #NHLStats https://t.co/X8Td04QEpA pic.twitter.com/LjTZFKB4jO
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) April 6, 2018
Ovechkin, if he plays, needs a hat trick in his final game Saturday against the Devils to hit 50 for the eighth time in his career.
tonight was incredible moment for me n my family!! it's huge honor to play for the Caps all this time! thx u all caps fans to support me n to all my teammates coaches n trainers to help me do it ))1000 игр в НХЛ,спасибо всем моим тренерам,моим товарищам по команде с кем я играл и играю,спасибо болельщикам за поддержку!!!огромное спасибо моим родителям что воспитали во мне трудолюбие и упорство!спасибо моей любимой за поддержку и веру в меня!
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Headline photo: @Capitals
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