Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 11/11/11 at 05:24 PM ET
from Shannon Proudfoot with Christine Simpson in Washington of Sportsnet,
When sculptors from Madame Tussauds meet with a celebrity to create a wax doppelgänger, it’s usually the eyeballs that freak the famous out. Not Alex Ovechkin. A team of artists met the Washington Capitals superstar this summer, and when they pulled out a foam-lined metal case of acrylic eyeballs—complete with veins made of red silk thread—he plucked himself a pair, squished them into his eye sockets like a kid in a magic store and started mugging for the cameras.
In a league where most players give the impression they’d rather have their face driven into the boards than deal with one more microphone or camera, Ovechkin comes off as the only one who would probably enjoy testing his comedic timing as host of Saturday Night Live. Since he blew into the NHL following the 2004–05 lockout, he’s livened up the joint with both his freak-of-nature on-ice talents and his flamboyant personality, willingly playing the clown in a class that badly needed one. He is the anti–Sidney Crosby—bombastic rather than humble, brash instead of low-key, saying and doing interesting things rather than the right things—and he’s been no less essential to selling the game. But now, with the gaudy offensive numbers he posted in his first five NHL seasons declining to mere mortal levels, his team faltering in the playoffs and the league relying on him for a personality injection, the NHL’s king has become something more akin to its court jester.
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