Alex Ovechkin made his NHL debut 16 years ago today on October 5, 2005. That night began the careers of two of the greatest hockey players of all time: Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. Since then, the superstars have combined to win four Stanley Cups (3, Crosby; 1, Ovechkin) and five Hart Trophies as league MVP (3, Ovechkin; 2, Crosby).
During Ovechkin’s first NHL game, he scored twice and broke the glass with a hit in Washington’s 3-2 win.
“I feel my dreams come true,” Ovechkin said after the game. “I play in the NHL. First game, we win.”
The Capitals tweeted video from that game and a photo, Tuesday.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 5, 2021
Last year, Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, feeling especially sentimental, tweeted a link to a WTOP story celebrating the milestone. “I remember it like it was yesterday,” Leonsis said.
— Ted Leonsis (@TedLeonsis) October 5, 2020
Capitals assistant GM Ross Mahoney added that “I wasn’t in the building that night but I remember watching the game later. I think it was a good showing on his part. Obviously came in and showed a tremendous amount of confidence right off the bat for a young player. He was ready to come in and make a statement to everybody in the league.”
This Date @Capitals History
Oct.5, 2005: Alex Ovechkin scores twice in a memorable @NHL debut
Voiced by: @JohnWaltonPxP
— Caps Radio 24/7 (@CapitalsRadio) October 5, 2021
That night I was at the game (ugh why didn’t I keep the ticket). Ovechkin quickly made it obvious that he could score at will and had unmatched speed and physical skills.
In a recent interview with the NHL, Ovechkin recapped his big first game.
“My first game against Columbus. We won the game 3-2,” Ovechkin said. “First shift I make a big hit. The kind of make a statement right away so, I’m here and the fans and the team want me.”
Ovechkin’s bodycheck on Radoslav Suchy broke the plexiglass partition.
“He didn’t expect it,” Ovechkin said. “I was flying over there. I was young. I was crazy. When you have that strength in your body, I think you have to use it. Have to send a message.”
The message being, “Another one of those crazy Russians has [come] to the league.”
Ovechkin scored twice in a span of four minutes and thirty seconds in the second period. Maryland native Jeff Halpern, who recently won his second Stanley Cup as an assistant coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning, assisted on both goals.
Via Hockey Reference
“I remember the first he shows up, he was wearing cut-off Daisy Duke jean shorts that would have been too short on a girl,” Halpern said via Ben Raby. “And he had these monstrous, incredible-Hulk legs sticking out of them. His shirt was too tight, he was wearing flip-flops and it didn’t look like he fit into his clothes.
“And with all the billing of this guy being the savior of our franchise, I’m looking at him thinking, ‘Seriously? This is the guy? He’s going to carry us?’”
“Of course, it’s relief,” Ovechkin said of scoring his first NHL goal. “Of course, it’s something that you dream especially my parents there, my brother. It was pretty special.”
Looking back at that time in his career, Ovechkin admitted, “It was a little scary because no English, no friends.” If he could go back in time and give the younger version of himself a message, Ovechkin would say, “don’t sign 13-year contract. Sign 18 years.”
16 years later, Ovechkin is considered one of the most consistent and durable players of all-time. He’s scored 730 goals in 1,197 games, 164 tallies behind Wayne Gretzky’s record of 894. Ovi has won the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league’s leading goal-scorer nine times. Ovi’s the only player in NHL history to win a Stanley Cup, a Conn Smythe Trophy, a Calder Trophy, an Art Ross Trophy, a Hart Trophy, a Ted Lindsay Trophy, and a Maurice Richard Trophy.
Ovechkin made his debut 16 years ago today. Since then, Washington has won 689 games (2nd best in the NHL over that span), won 10 division titles, 1 conference title and one Stanley Cup. Ovechkin is also 2nd in points with 1320 and his 730 goals is tops by a whopping 244(!!!)
— JJ Regan (@JJReganNBCS) October 5, 2021
Note: This article was edited and reposted from an RMNB article in 2020.
Screenshot courtesy of @Capitals
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