Sunday, November 26, 2006

Light in a Dark Time

- I finally got around to reading the story on Ovechkin in this weekend's Washington Post Magazine. I have to say, it was really one of the most beautiful pieces I've ever read on him...and there have been many. It's very long but worth it - if you haven't read it yet, go do that first (then come back and keep reading here!)

The article has the usual information that we all know so well by now - mother was a basketball player for the Soviet Union's Olympic team, brother lives with him part of the year in Arlington, he turned down more money in Russia to play in the NHL...all things that have been said before. But this story shows more of the heart, the family connection, and the dedication that Alex has to his sport and his teammates.

His parents talk about their history and their relationship, and they are clearly still very much in love. You can sense it when they talk about their first meeting, although they don't say much, and it's obvious that they have passed on that love to their sons. One of my favorite parts of the article was a description of Ovechkin stretching out on the couch after a meal cooked by his mother, who is standing over him stroking his hair - just a very grounded and loving picture of a mother and son, like any other family.

I think that's what appeals to people about Ovie - he is just like anyone else. The money, the publicity, the fame aside, he is down-to-earth and above all else, a kid. He drives too fast in a souped-up BMW; he leaves his jock strap on the kitchen counter; he listens to loud dance music and has a girlfriend.

It really speaks volumes to how Ovie was raised, and makes me think that he will be fine under his parents' guidance - after reading the article, the removal of Don Meehan doesn't seem like a money-driven, stage parent-esque move. His parents seem to really have his best interests at heart, and both of them have experience in the world of professional sports. They'll help to keep him grounded and keep him enjoying the game and focusing only on getting better. It sounds like they were never comfortable entrusting their son to someone else and just want to make sure he'll be okay.

The fact that he's on the cover of the Post Magazine is huge - I'm hoping that his story will attract even one person who maybe wouldn't have thought of attending a hockey game but who now wants to see what all the fuss is about. It's something that has been missing in the DC-area - balanced media coverage. No one's asking the local sports media to cover more hockey than football or basketball, but an even distribution of the spotlight doesn't seem like too much to ask. The recent explosion of Caps-related blogs since the beginning of the season, mine included, just shows that there is an audience that is being ignored.

Anyways, enough ranting - this is a great read. Be sure to check out the slideshow, too, it's really well done.

And by the way, my other favorite part of the article? When Ovie compares Pittsburgh to Omsk, a city in Siberia.


- I'm sure you've noticed by now that I've added a whole list of hockey blogs to the right. Just my little way of keeping the crazy inhabitants of the hockey blogosphere connected. I'm sure I've missed some - I just refuse to believe that there are more blogs about the Columbus Blue Jackets than the Montreal Canadiens - so if yours is missing, give me a shout out and I'll be happy to add you to the list!

1 comment:

Jordi said...

You know when I read it I was so touched and really felt how you wanted to relate to Ovechkin even with his wacky sense of humour. I don't get why this guy doesn't get extra coverage. I'd rather see an advertisement with Ovechkin over Crosby. But sometimes I wonder if marketing prefers Crosby what with his squeaky clean smile and home grown style. I mean he's the guy who worked up, not saying Ovechkin didn't. But I think the young hopefuls don't want to see an import whiz but a guy who they want to exactly be in 10 years.

But Ovechkin is such a good kid, he's been raised well and holds the right values.