Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has eight goals so far in the 2022-23 season to give him 788 in his career. That total leaves him just 107 tallies shy of overtaking Wayne Gretzky for first all-time in NHL history.
With Ovi closing in on the big record and breaking plenty of other records along the way, figures both past and present in his career have been getting asked about The Great Eight’s chase.
Ovi’s good buddy and former Caps winger Alex Semin is the latest to comment as he sat down with Pavel Lysenkov from the Russian outlet Match TV.
“Most importantly, no injuries,” Semin said of Ovechkin’s record hunt via Google Translation. “Little by little, maybe it will last. If it goes at the same pace. It’s hard, of course. Not young anymore. We are not iron. It all depends on his body, on his well-being, and his desire.”
Back in mid-October before the Capitals’ first game of the season, team owner Ted Leonsis told NBC Sports Washington that Gretzky would like to follow the Caps around once Ovechkin gets close to his record.
“No one is resentful that he could pass Gordie Howe,” Leonsis said. “Wayne Gretzky calls me all the time and says, ‘Alex is going to pass me. I want to be with the team when that happens.’ He’s going to travel with the team and Alex.”
It appears that Semin has the same exact plans.
“If it happens, I will definitely be there,” Semin said. “When there is a goal or two left before the record, I will live in America. I will go to Washington. I think a whole delegation will ride behind Ovechkin. It’s still far from that, but god hoping that it will come true.”
The former NHL marksman was also asked to compare Ovechkin with Gretzky in terms of the former becoming a head coach in hockey like the latter did with the Phoenix Coyotes for four seasons from 2005 through 2009. He wasn’t too sure there would be a fit there.
“I think that most likely not,” Semin said. “Because it’s very hard to be a superstar for so many years and then become a head coach. It’s my personal opinion. For coaching work, you need to study for more than one year. To learn from someone, even if you played hockey.
“Playing is one thing, coaching is another,” Semin continued. “And this job is even harder than being a player. Because around the clock, you have to watch videos, analyze the game, conduct training sessions, and go to matches. You need to devote your whole life to this business.”
Semin scored 197 goals for the Capitals – sixth-most in franchise history. His 40-goal season in 2009-10 remains the only campaign a Caps player has reached the 40-goal mark in the Ovechkin era besides Ovi himself.
Sasha Minor spoke about how the hockey landscape in DC changed due to his former teammate during that era.
“Sanya created such a sport in Washington as hockey,” Semin said. “Attendance was from 10 to 11 thousand, and since Sanya started playing, every game has been sold out. He’s not the only one, of course, because hockey is a team game. But he makes sure that hockey is loved in this city. He attracts spectators to the arena, breaks records, and every second match is historical. That’s why there is such a stir.
“I remember the time when we just arrived in Washington and we were just beginning to be recognized,” Semin continued. “And that’s part of the job of a hockey player. You have to talk to people. And it’s very nice that we were recognized in Washington, although we came from another country.”
Semin now lives in his hometown of Krasnoyarsk after retiring from professional hockey earlier this year. He was named the President of his hometown club Sokol Krasnoyarsk of the VHL (Russia’s AHL equivalent) this past September.
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