Over the summer, Alex Ovechkin spoke to the Russian media about his future in hockey as his current contract with the Capitals expires in two years’ time. Ovechkin made waves then when he seemingly hinted he could retire. “I have two more years to play, under my contract,” Ovechkin said according to TASS. “Let us wait and see whether I will continue my career as everything depends on the health.”
During NHL Media Day earlier in the week, Ovi spoke to NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti and spoke about his future. While he reiterated that he’d re-evaluate everything in two years, he made it clear he would play as long as he could – but with one caveat.
“We’ll see what’s going to happen in two years,” Ovechkin said to Gulitti. “We’ll see where we’re at and, of course, I want to play until I can’t play, you know? I don’t want to be a guy who go out there and just, like, you know, play [like a] joke. If I’m going to be at the same level, yeah [I’ll play].”
Ovechkin will be celebrating his 34th birthday on September 17th, and is hot off his eighth 50-plus goal season. He led the league with 51-goals during the 2018-19 season and took home his eighth Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy, remaining the oldest NHL player to ever do so.
Should Ovechkin net another 50-goal season, he will pass Luc Robitaille (668 goals), Teemu Selanne (684), Mario Lemieux (690), Steve Yzerman (692) and Mark Messier (694), and sit tied at seventh in NHL history with Mike Gartner at 708 goals. He would still remain “too far away” from Wayne Gretzky’s number one record of 894 goals, but it would be within reach with a few more seasons in the books, barring a future lockout.
Ovechkin’s durability has almost become synonymous with his name, along with the mantra “Russian machine never breaks,” but his recent comments show that he remains committed to both his health and the quality of his game. Should either decline by the time that his contract is eligible for an extension on July 1, 2020, it would not be out of the question in his mind to retire.
As for how Ovechkin feels as the 2019-20 NHL season gets closer, he told Gulitti, “I’m fresher. The period of time we didn’t play hockey it helped us to refresh physically and mentally.”
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong
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