Alex Ovechkin stands out as an oddity amongst the seven other left wings currently listed on the Washington Capitals roster (Conor Sheary, Connor McMichael, Carl Hagelin, Marcus Johansson, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, Johan Larsson, and Beck Malenstyn). Ovechkin is the only one who shoots right handed.
During his international soccer debut with Dynamo Moscow in June, Ovechkin scored a goal, but noticeably kicked the ball into the net with his left foot.
That prompted questions after the match.
Via Match TV and a Google Translation:
You have a right-handed shot to the left. Are you left-handed in football?
Alex Ovechkin: Yes. Actually, I’m weird. I write with my right hand, throw with my left hand, hit the ball with my left hand, and play hockey with my right hand. This is how I am.
Baseball is perhaps Ovechkin’s strangest example as he bats right handed (just like in golf), but throws left handed.
Ovechkin’s general strength and ambidexterity may be another, less-heralded piece of the puzzle to explain why’s been so successful in the NHL.
Ovi’s preference to play on the left despite shooting right even caused a bit of consternation during Adam Oates’ head-coaching reign in DC. The Hockey Hall of Fame player had Ovechkin switch to the right wing, thinking it would unearth more scoring potential from the team’s captain. The idea made sense on paper. Instead, it added a lot of awkwardness to Ovechkin’s game, including crashing into other teammates during games.
“It shouldn’t be difficult,” Troy Brouwer said of the move to RMNB then. “He’s a right-handed shot, he should be able to play right wing. It should be hard to play your off wing.”
“He’s been playing on the left wing for a long time, and it’s different to play the other side,” added Marcus Johansson. “I can’t answer for him.”
Eventually, Oates abandoned the idea, but the change landed Ovechkin as an end-of-season All-Star on both wings due to some questionable voting from the PHWA.
So, in conclusion, if you ever get Alex Ovechkin’s autograph in person, he’ll sign your puck with his right hand. But if you ask him to heave it to you, he’ll do so with his left. It’s weird, but it most definitely works for him.
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