Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 02/10/14 at 08:41 PM ET
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
He is a ubiquitous presence here, his smiling, gap-toothed grin plastered all over everything, from Coca-Cola cans to luggage tags to billboards all over town.
These may turn out to be Alexander Ovechkin’s Olympics, if the masses and/or the corporate sponsors have a say. Ovechkin was greeted as a conquering hero Monday, when the full Russian team – NHLers joining their KHL brethren – arrived for practice at the Bolshoi Ice Palace in preparation for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games men’s hockey tournament.
Ovechkin was greeted by fans at the airport, mobbed by volunteers in the athletes village and surrounded by reporters in the mixed zone. Other Russian players may be more integral to the final outcome – Pavel Datsyuk is the glue up front, either Sergei Bobrovsky or Semyon Varlamov will have to provide a better brand of goaltending than what the team got four years ago – but Ovechkin is the player who captivates the audiences. He is a brand unto himself, his personality larger than life.
One could convincingly argue no single individual had a greater impact on NHL participation in these Olympics than Ovechkin.
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