Between Cup stands and caviar, Alex Ovechkin found a quiet moment of reflection in his family’s former apartment Sunday morning, sprawled out on a twin bed in his childhood room. The Russian machine closed his eyes and put one arm around the Stanley Cup.
13 seasons after making his NHL debut, Ovechkin finally won his first championship as a member of the Washington Capitals. But that dream likely would not have been realized without his late brother.
A short time later, Ovechkin, along with his mother Tatyana and father Mikhail, made their way to a cemetery to share the championship trophy with Sergey Ovechkin.
And here is Ovechkin talking about if he expected the reaction he got in Red Square and why it was important for him to bring the Cup to his brother’s grave. pic.twitter.com/QINhZNS0wF
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) July 9, 2018
When Ovechkin was 10, his older brother Sergey died at the age of 24. After getting in a car accident, Ovi’s older brother passed away unexpectedly due to a blood clot. Sergey was one of the people who really encouraged The Great 8 to get into hockey.
“For me, it was a very important moment to spend time with my brother,” Ovechkin said. “I know he’s above [looking down on me]. And the same with Nastya’s mom.” Ovechkin’s mother-in-law, Vera Glagoleva, died at the age of 61 in August 2017.
“They look at me,” Ovechkin said. “They give me all the power and emotions.”
According to the Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan, the Stanley Cup’s handlers stayed in the car as Ovechkin carried the trophy into the graveyard.
“It was a tough moment, it was a tough moment for my parents, but it is what it is,” Ovechkin said. “You can’t take time back. You can’t change time so we just move forward. But I think it was very important for me personally because he’s the guy who, he’s my brother obviously. You can’t change it, but he motivated me to play hard and I gave what I can on the ice.”
Ovechkin has scored 607 regular season goals and added 61 more in the playoffs. After every one of those tallies, Ovechkin kisses his glove and points skyward, acknowledging Sergey above.
“I’m pretty sure he’s proud of me right now looking at me from upstairs,” Ovechkin said during an interview with Graham Bensinger. “If that kind of situation happen, if he be here right now, I don’t know if I’m gonna be a hockey player or not. So I don’t know what’s going to happen if he be alive. Maybe I’m not a hockey player.”
Back when the tragedy happened in 1996, Ovechkin was a youth hockey player and had a game the very next day. His parents took him to the rink and made him suit up.
“It was hard. I was crying,” Ovechkin said of the moment. “I remember I was crying that day. I was on the bench. I was crying, but my shifts, my coach says, ‘Okay, go play.’ I play and I was crying.
“You’re 10-years-old. Obviously you don’t realize what’s happening,” Ovechkin continued. “It was hard moment for my mom and dad and all my family. Older son pass away. It was hard time.”
But that traumatic childhood event likely gave Ovechkin the desire to become a champion and one of the game’s best players. Ovechkin scores at a pace that defies his age. Despite doling out hits like a checking-line forward, he’s one of the most durable players in the NHL. His legs churn faster and his engine fires at a RPM higher than nearly all others.
“[His death] motivates me to be more in the right way than the bad way,” Ovechkin said. “Because only me and Mikhail live with my family. I know somebody have to take care of my parents in the future. It doesn’t matter if it’s hockey or something else, I have to be successful.”
Headline photo: Mike Carlson
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.