Alex Ovechkin is self-admittedly superstitious. He eats the same pregame meal, does the same pregame routines (even if it means biting someone), and celebrates goals the same way — in honor of his late brother. During the Capitals’ 2018 Stanley Cup run, Ovechkin even made sure a stool was in the same place to try and avoid bad luck.
This same mentality extends to Ovechkin’s gear where the Capitals’ captain wears the same yellow laces and chest pad; tucks his jersey; and prepares his sticks the exact same way.
Except on Tuesday, Ovechkin debuted a new, confounding tape job during the Capitals’ Training Camp session. Ovechkin usually takes a puck, rubs it against his white stick tape, and colors the tape entirely black. On this day, however, he left a single white stripe in the middle of the blade, which was noticed by RMNB photographer Alan Dobbins.
Here’s an even closer look.
After speaking to two NHL hockey stick experts, the competitive advantage of Ovechkin’s single stripe tape job remains unclear.
“That’s very strange,” Matt Stathopoulos of GearGeek.com said to me when he saw the photos. “He always adds puck marks to the tape, but perhaps this time he was simply trying for a more flashy look. There might be a specific reason for it, but honestly, we’re not sure.”
The man behind Everything Pro Stock, whose Ovechkin tape job explainer video has over 425k views on YouTube, was equally as confused.
“I feel like there could be something there visually for a goalie with the bottom part of the shading being about the same height as a puck,” he said. “But my guess is he’s just messing around. After taping up a few thousand sticks the exact same way, I’m sure it gets boring.”
Perhaps the single stripe messes with a goalie’s vision as a shot is released. Maybe the stripe works as a measuring tool during practice to see how cleanly and where Ovechkin is making contact with the puck on his blade. Perhaps, Ovi lost a bet with stick nerd Evgeny Kuznetsov, who once played with a stick that had a hole carved into the blade.
Whatever the reason, how Alex Ovechkin tapes and prepares his sticks has gotten considerable attention over the years as fans have tried to further understand his goal-scoring brilliance and hockey players have tried to emulate his success on the ice.
Will this new tape job debut in a regular season game? We’ll see next week as Ovechkin begins his 18th season in the NHL.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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