Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 10/01/13 at 02:10 PM ET
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
... As for being aware of the criticism that has nipped at his heels in recent times, Ovechkin is nothing if not self-aware.
"Of course I read the newspapers. I watch the TV when the people say something, what they say it's good things or bad things. I say 'OK, they're going to say bad things about me right now, I'm ready for it. Then, they're going to say good things about me, I'm ready for it,'" Ovechkin explained. "I'm not 21 years old. Mentally ... this guy tells bad things about me, I've got to do something different. I'm a grown man. I have experience. I've been in all situations before. So I'm OK with it."
And there's the paradox of being Alexander Ovechkin, no? He is not like other Russians. He does not hide in the shadows like Alexander Semin did for years in Washington. He does not flee from reporters like Evgeni Malkin does even now in Pittsburgh, where he has made an art of hiding in Sidney Crosby's shadow. He is not painfully shy like Pavel Datsyuk is in Detroit.
Ovechkin is the captain of an NHL team. He is the face of the Washington Capitals. And given his long-standing rivalry with Crosby, he shared some of the burden of dragging the NHL out of the wilderness following the 2005-06 lockout. He gets it. But in getting it, Ovechkin isn't necessarily a warm, fuzzy figure, at least not all the time.
A week before our chat with him at the Caps' practice facility, Ovechkin had flown from Russia for an annual league-organized series of interviews and photo shoots at the Prudential Center in Newark. While the day started well, by the end of it Ovechkin was a bear, providing terse one-word answers and grumbling at the demands being placed on him.
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