By Ian Oland
After Alex Ovechkin’s rookie season in the NHL, Capitals general manager George McPhee signed enforcer Donald Brashear to a one-year, $1 million contract. Brashear’s presence on the ice was meant to be a deterrent to opposing players looking to go after the Capitals’ superstar.
“We’re not running a Sunday school,” then Capitals General Manager George McPhee said per a Washington Post story in July 2006. “There were some times [last season] when some defensemen on other teams went after Alex a little bit. And there were a lot of times when Alex ran over other teams’ defensemen.”
Brashear was one of the most fearsome hitters and heavyweight fighters in the league along with Georges Laraque during that time. But according to former Capitals assistant coach Dean Evason (2005-2012), who is now the head coach of the Minnesota Wild, Ovechkin found Brashear’s help unnecessary during his own physical battles on the ice.
“There were some days when we had Donald Brashear here and guys were taking runs at him, like crazy runs at him,” Evason said of Ovechkin per NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti before Sunday’s Caps-Wild game. “He’s the best player and Brash would go, ‘Ovi, you want me to look after you.’ And he says, ‘No, no. I’ve got it.’”
Evason continued, “And he would just go out and be more physical than the people that were trying to be physical on him.”
Ovechkin is arguably the greatest power forward of all time. Since entering the NHL in 2005-06, Ovechkin has the most goals 772 and the fourth most hits during that time (3,251), trailing only Dustin Brown (3,623), Cal Clutterbuck (3,562), and Matt Martin (3,370). The Capitals captain has also not been afraid to drop the gloves, fighting four times in his career. During a postseason bout against Andrei Svechnikov in 2019, Ovechkin knocked out the rookie after several punches.
While speaking to the press, Evason also praised Ovechkin for continuing to remain such a consistent point-producer and dangerous goal-scorer during his age 36 season.
“We used to joke about it, he and I, about being a freak,” Evason said. “He’s a freak. It’s crazy.”
Ovechkin is fourth in the NHL in goals this season, scoring 42 times in 67 games. The Wild beat the Capitals 5-1 Sunday night.
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