One can still appreciate and maybe even marvel at Alex Ovechkin’s feats on the ice as the 37-year-old inexorably chases down Wayne Gretzky’s NHL career record of 894 goals that for the longest time seemed as untouchable as Hank Aaron’s 755 major league career home runs.
But the thrill is gone.
Because, at least for me, while it is intellectually possible to distinguish between Ovechkin the hockey player and Ovechkin the political commentator, it is a leap too far to do so on an emotional basis.
It is impossible to celebrate Ovechkin the man, who for years not only publicly aligned himself with the genocidal Russian president Vladimir Putin and his policies, but attempted to lead a movement in his support as late as 2017.
Mr. Hockey, The Great One, and now, The Great Eight.
For nearly 14 years, Gordie Howe held his place as the only player in NHL history with 800 regular-season goals. For almost 29 years more, it was only Howe and Wayne Gretzky. That changed Tuesday, when Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored goal No. 800 against Blackhawks goaltender Petr Mrazek to join the League’s most exclusive goals list.