On June 7, Alex Ovechkin seemingly accomplished everything he could in the NHL. He became playoff MVP and held up the Stanley Cup for the first time in his career. Ovechkin is the only player in NHL history with a Calder Trophy, a Hart Trophy, a Maurice Richard Trophy, a Ted Lindsay Award, an Art Ross Trophy, a Conn Smythe Trophy, and a Stanley Cup.
Since first joining the NHL, Ovechkin has maintained that the two biggest goals of his career were to win the Stanley Cup and earn an Olympic gold medal just like his mother Tatyana.
Did winning the Stanley Cup last season change Ovechkin’s calculus when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2021? That summer, Ovechkin will complete a 13-year $124 million contract with the Capitals – the biggest in franchise history.
Igor Rabiner asked Ovechkin about his next contract during an interview with Sport-Express after the Caps’ recent west coast swing.
“I won’t make any comments for now,” Ovechkin said, before making a comment. “I still have a contract, but I’ve been playing only for two teams in my life: Dynamo Moscow and the Caps. I don’t like too much to change teams.”
The Great 8 leaves open that he would change teams if the right opportunity presents itself, but he seems to indicate that he would prefer to play either with Washington or Dynamo Moscow to end his career.
Ovi’s future in DC will depend on many factors, including the opportunity to play in the 2022 Olympics.
The NHL decided against sending athletes to South Korea for the 2018 games, and it could be a sticking point for the upcoming CBA negotiations. The Olympic Athletes of Russia won gold against the Germans in overtime.
Ovi pointed out repeatedly that he still hasn’t won a gold medal for Russia in his interview, and clarified he’ll make a decision on whether or not to pursue a career abroad and play in the Olympics once the games get closer.
Last year you won the Stanley Cup and became a father. Can you say “My life is great now and I have achieved everything I’ve ever wanted?”
Alex Ovechkin: I still didn’t win the Olympics and there are a lot of other things I want to achieve too. Becoming a father is a great thing for me for my wife and for our families. We’re all very happy with it.
You said to win the Olympics is your next goal, but there is still no guarantee that the NHL will take part in Beijing 2022. The Winter Olympics are far away.
Alex Ovechkin: So let’s not look that far. Also, the lockout is getting closer. So I’ll make my decision about it later.
Your contract ends up in 2021. The Olympics are scheduled for 2022. Are you thinking about going to Russia for one season?
Alex Ovechkin: It depends on many factors: my family, my physical condition, etc. As I said, let’s not look that far. We’ll figure everything out closer to the Olympic games.
Another factor going into Ovechkin’s decision would be chasing Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal record of 894. Ovi currently sits at 653, but he noted he wouldn’t go record chasing if his body couldn’t handle playing anymore.
“To be honest, if I feel I’m not good enough when I’m 40, I quit,” Ovechkin said. “I don’t want to deceive the hockey and I want to share more time with my kids in the future.”
Ovi previously joked he would need to play until he was 60 to catch up to Gretzky, but his consistency late in his career is allowing him to close quickly. Ovechkin sits only 241 goals away from tying the record. He’s currently only 33 years old.
While many questions remain, there’s one thing’s for sure: Ovechkin has deeply appreciated his time in DC.
“I am really lucky cause I have that opportunity to play in Washington,” Ovechkin said. “The Capitals just started a rebuild when I came and there was an intention to make me a central figure of the Caps. When our team signed players, they signed guys who could help me to grow as a hockey player. I call myself lucky because they chose me as number one pick at the draft. Because I started to play for Team Russia being just 17. Hard work is important, but what would we do without luck?”
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong
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