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Alexander Ovechkin  

Russian Professional Ice Hockey Winger & Captain of the NHL Washington Capitals

The first signs of the Ovechkin's future came when he was a child. At the age of two, in a Soviet toy store, Alexander grabbed a toy stick and helmet and refused to let go. His parents treasure the picture to this day. As a small child, whenever he saw a hockey game on TV, he "threw all his toys" and ran to the TV. He "protested strongly" if his parents tried to change the channel. His parents say they knew he would be an athlete when Alexander chose to run up the steps to their apartment rather than take the elevator.

He began playing hockey at the age of seven. Soon after he began, however, he had to postpone his hockey career because his parents were unable to take him to the rink. But one of Ovechkin's coaches saw Ovechkin's talent and communicated to his parents that he should continue to play hockey. Ovechkin's brother, Sergei, who later died in a car accident, saw that Alexander loved hockey and insisted that he be allowed to return. Ovechkin resumed playing a few months later and never looked back.

Because he has studied at the Military Institute for Border Guards, he apparently does not have to serve in the military in Russia. Military duty is supposed to be "compulsory" in Russia, but it is so in name only and is enforced selectively rather than uniformly; for instance, young Russian star Ilya Kovalchuk has never served in the military, while Ukrainian-born Nikolai Zherdev was forced to go to arbitration court in Switzerland because Russian authorities claimed he had to serve in the military. It is thought that Ovechkin will not have to face these circumstances.

Alexander Ovechkin has been talked about throughout the NHL and has been claimed "Best Rookie" by many sports enthusiasts. He is expected to win the 2006 NHL rookie point race, vaulting himself ahead of rivals Marek Svatos and Sidney Crosby. His likable attitude and drive for success has made him one of the league's top players while still in his first NHL season. Due to his profound impact on the NHL this year, many have held contests and given prizes to think of a catchy nickname for the Russian superstar. Rival "Sid the Kid" Crosby needs a competitive counterpart with a sleek nickname so that a true rivalry can begin. Some have suggested nicknames such as: "Agent 008" , "Alexander the Great", "Alexander the Eight", "The Russian Sniper", and many more, but none have caught on quite yet. Another phrase which the Caps fans have given him is A! O! LETS GO! To the theme of Blitzkreig Bop as made famous by The Ramones.

At the age of 16, Alexander Ovechkin surpassed the scoring record set by countryman Ilya Kovalchuk in the World Under-18 Junior Championships by scoring 14 goals and 4 assists in 8 games. Ovechkin still holds the scoring record today.

At the age of 16, Ovechkin helped lead the Junior National Team to the Gold medal with two hat tricks, one against Switzerland and one against USA, and an assist.

Also at the age of 17, when he was selected by legendary Russian coach Victor Tikhonov to play in the Ceska Poistovna Eurotour tournament, Alexander became the youngest skater ever to play for the Russian National Team in the history of Russian hockey. The only other player to play for the National Team at that age was legendary goaltender Vladislav Tretiak. In that tournament he also became the youngest player ever to score for the National Team. He finished the tournament with 1 goals and 2 assists in 3 games.

At the age of 18, Ovechkin was named Captain of the Junior Russian National Team although he was a year younger than many of the other players on the team. Ovechkin finished the tournament with 5 goals and 2 assists, while Russia finished 5th in the tournament.

At the age of 19, Ovechkin was named to the Russian National Team for the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. He was the youngest player in the tournament, and he finished with one goal in games played against Slovakia and the USA - both teams laden with NHL stars.

Also at the age of 19, Alexander Ovechkin was named Captain of the Junior National Team in the 2005 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. The tournament, lasting from December 25, 2004, to January 4, 2005, was Ovechkin's third and last. At the end of the tournament he had collected 7 goals (tied for tournament lead) and 4 assists. His team received the silver medal after losing the gold medal game to Canada on January 4, and Ovechkin was named the Best Forward of the tournament as well as selected to the tournament All-Star Team.

In 2005 Ovechkin played in his first IIHF men's World Championships. He scored five goals and three assists, landing eighth in the top scorers list and sharing third place in goal scoring with NHL professionals Zigmund Palffy and Mark Parrish.

Ovechkin began playing in the Dynamo Moscow system from the very start. In Russia, unlike in North America, hockey teams build players in their systems from childhood. Of course since the fall of the Soviet Union the players always have the option of which team they play for, but teams encourage players to stay in the system and hope that some of those players will eventually reach the Russian Superleague, the best hockey league in Russia and, according to some, the second best league in the world after the NHL.

Over the years Ovechkin worked his way up ranks of the Dynamo system and at the age of 16 he made his debut for Dynamo Moscow in the Russian Superleague in the 2001-2002 season. He scored 2 goals and 2 assists in 21 games.

The next year, in the 2002-2003 Superleague season, he scored 8 goals and 7 assists in 40 games.

In the 2003-2004 season, at the age of 18, he scored 13 goals and 10 assists in 53 games. He won the award for Best Left Wing in the Superleague and was the youngest player in the history of Dynamo Moscow to lead the team in scoring.

In 2004-2005, the young forward scored 13 goals and 13 assists in 37 games. An ongoing shoulder injury sustained in the Gold Medal Game against Canada in the World Junior Championships caused him to miss nearly two months of play.

Projected to be 1st overall at the age of 14, Alexander Ovechkin never relinquished his reign of the 2004 Draft Class. Performances in prestigious tournaments and leagues only reinforced his position as the best undrafted prospect in the world.

On June 26, 2004, Alexander Ovechkin was drafted 1st overall by the Washington Capitals. Ovechkin is only the second Russian in NHL history to be drafted first overall; Ilya Kovalchuk was made the first by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2001.

Following the 2004-05 NHL lockout, Alexander Ovechkin played his first game with the Washington Capitals on October 5, 2005, scoring two goals in a 3-2 victory over Columbus. He scored at least one point (6G, 4A) in each of the Capitals' first eight games of the 2005-2006 season, before being held scoreless with the rest of the Capitals team in 4-0 loss against the Carolina Hurricanes on October 22, 2005. The eight game point streak set the new NHL record for consecutive points to start an NHL career by a No. 1 overall pick. He is currently one of the top ten goal scorers in the league, as well as the top rookie points scorer ahead of 18 year-old hockey phenom Sidney CrosbyOn Monday, April 10, 2006, Ovechkin scored 3:30 into overtime, making him the sixth NHL rookie to reach 100 points and giving the Washington Capitals a 2-1 victory against the Boston Bruins. Ovechkin's goal snapped a six-game drought, that matched the longest of his first season, and gave him 49. The 20-year-old left winger has four games left to score again and join Teemu Selanne as the only NHL rookies to post 50 goals and 100 points in a debut season.

Ovechkin was named the NHL Rookie of the Month for December 2005. He led all NHL rookies in scoring with 19 points (8 G, 11 A) in 12 games.

On January 13th, 2006 in Anaheim, Ovechkin scored his first career hat trick. He currently holds the record for most shots on goal by an NHL rookie with 400. The previous record holder was Teemu Selänne set with the Winnipeg Jets in the 1992-93 season with 387 shots on goal.

On January 16th, 2006, Alexander Ovechkin scored what is considered to be one of the best goals to date for the 2005-2006 season. Dragged down by Paul Mara, a defenseman for the Phoenix Coyotes, then sliding on his back and facing away from the net, Ovechkin was able to hook the puck with one hand on his stick and slide it into the net past Coyotes' goalie Brian Boucher for his second goal of the night. Veteran hockey reporter Bill Clement called it "one of the greatest goals of all time", though he was lucky to get the puck in on the play.

On January 19th, 2006, Ovechkin scored his 33rd goal on the year, breaking the Capitals team record for goals by a rookie just over halfway into the season. The record was previously breaking Bobby Carpenter's record set by the 1981-82 Caps.

On January 23, 2006, Ovechkin was named the NHL's Offensive Player of the week. Ovechkin scored 3 goals and tallied 4 assists to aide the Capitals in their 3 wins between January 15-22. Ovechkin is also noted for being a highly aggressive forward able to hit other players as well as score goals. A style not seen very often in the NHL.

On February 1st, 2006, Ovechkin was again named NHL Rookie of the Month for January 2006 as well as being named Offensive Player of the Month, becoming only the third player in NHL history to earn both honors in a single month. On February 10th, 2006, Ovechkin set a new record for most points by a Washington Capitals rookie.

On April 10 against the Boston Bruins, Alexander Ovechkin scored the game winning goal in overtime to give him 100 points for the season. He was the first rookie in 13 years to reach this milestone.

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