One of my favorite Alex Ovechkin moments of all time didn’t happen on the ice. It happened inside the bowels of Capital One Arena when, as a much younger player, Ovechkin almost accidentally eliminated two of the Capitals’ four Young Guns from existence with one bad but funny decision.
Well over a decade ago, Ovechkin was caught on camera driving Mike Green around Capital One Arena in a utility cart.
“Me and Ovi usually go for a ride when we get out in soccer,” Green said then.
The video then shows Ovi going turbo speed down a ramp to try and make it past a metal gate that was rapidly closing.
“If you get close to it, it’ll go back up but, I mean, if it doesn’t, we’re in some serious trouble,” Green said.
As you can see, they were definitely almost in serious trouble. Ovechkin was forced to slam the brakes and did a Matrix-like move with his body to avoid being potentially decapitated.
“He kinda took it a little too far there when the gate was coming down,” Green said. “He thought he could go for it. Luckily, we made it.”
Ovechkin, now a husband and a father of two children, was re-shown the clip recently while doing an interview with Al Koken and Nicklas Backstrom to celebrate Capital One Arena’s 25th anniversary.
“The people who worked there gave us a chance to have fun,” Ovechkin said. “They give us car mobile…”
Backstrom interjected, “An ATV!”
“Yeah, so it was pretty fun,” Ovechkin said. “Back then, we was young and crazy. It was pretty special and pretty fun moments.”
Ovechkin and Backstrom spoke a lot about the Young Guns era in Washington with Koken. One of the duo’s favorite moments was when the team when on a heater at the end of the 2007-08 season to make the playoffs for the first time after the rebuild. The team won the Southeast Division in their final game, a 3-1 victory over the Florida Panthers.
“When we make the playoffs, we celebrate like we won the Cup,” Ovechkin said. “It’s been kind of like, I don’t know how to say…”
“Yeah, I mean, it was very special,” Backstrom said. “The last 20 games, I think we had to…”
“We have to win 19 or 18,” Ovechkin replied.
“I think we won 18 out of 20,” Backstrom said. “That’s when the whole city came behind us and started Rock The Red. It was obviously very special for us as players. Starting the year, we were playing in front of 5-6k people, and then all of a sudden we have 19k in the stands. It was incredible.
“I think looking back when we started, the Young Guns, the biggest reason why we started playing good was we got a coach that really let us play and let us develop,” Backstrom said of former coach Bruce Boudreau. “We were young guys. We didn’t know enough maybe to win. He knew how to develop us, let us loose, let us play our game, and that’s what we did. Obviously, it took us longer to winning, but at the same time, those years really helped us win the Cup.”
“We learned 10 years from our mistakes,” Ovechkin said laughing.
Ovechkin also described the type of “crazy” hockey they played back then, which also must have required a lot of patience from the team’s head coach.
“We know if we’re going to lose, after second period (down two goals), we know we can come back,” Ovechkin said. “We kind of maybe just wake up after two periods and start playing our game and use our skill and use our speed. It was kind of Brazilian-style soccer. They score six. Okay good for you. Now we’re going to score seven.”
“I think [the fans] loved it,” Backstrom said. “Probably looking back at it, the third period that’s gotta be their favorite because a lot of times we’re down two or three goals coming into the third, and all of a sudden here they come. We’re just coming in waves.”
Ovechkin admitted that he likely would never be in a goals chase without his powerful partnership with Backstrom.
“I think the connection between us starts right away,” Ovechkin said. “I think Young Guns — me, Greenie, Semin, and Backy — we grew up together on the ice and off the ice. He can find me everywhere on the ice. It’s special. Not many players can do that type of stuff. I’m lucky to have that type of center almost all my career.”
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