A Name to Know: Alexander Ovechkin

By Chris McCluskey

Russian seventeen year old Alexander Ovechkin is the
unanimous pick to go number one when the 2004 NHL
Entry Draft comes around in two years time. His
potential is endless as the young phenom arrived in
Halifax in preparation for the semi-finals of the
World Junior Championships and enters medal round play
with a tournament leading 6 goals. This afternoon he
sat down accompanied by an interpreter and his agent
Don Meehan to discuss the tragedy his family suffered
with the loss of his brother Sergei, his long term
hockey aspirations, and of course his current goal of
helping Team Russia win a World Junior gold medal
here in Halifax.

On his early hockey career:

I started skating at the age of seven and began to
play when I was nine. My brother Sergei, who passed
away, is the one who got me started by bringing me to
the Dynamo school to learn. But I had to quit the
Dynamo school after long because my parents could not
take me anymore.

On the Canadian media:

Canada is a special place, the birthplace of hockey,
so there will be a lot of attention. It is to be

On his influences:

My brother Sergei who got me started. Every time I
play I think of him and I always say thanks to him.

I always looked up at Nicklas Lidstrom when I was
young. My favorite Soviet would have been Alexander
Maltsev. Just because of the way he saw the ice, his
vision, and shot as well.

On the NHL Entry Draft:

I don’t care if I am number one, two, or number ten.
My goal right now is to win the gold medal for my
team. Then I’ll go back to my team is Russia and work
hard there.

On his long term hockey career:

I am enjoying myself tremendously. This is my life,
this is the air I breathe.

On the increased competitiveness and stability of the
Russian Superliga:

I’ll be honest, this isn’t something I think about at
all. I know a lot of big name players have come to
Russia the past few years but it’s not something I
think about.

On his mother, who is a former Olympic basketball

I am very proud of my mother. She is not only an
Olympic champion, but a Russian and international
champion as well. She helps me a lot on a daily basis
including how to conduct myself on and off the ice.

On why he chose hockey with his parents so heavily
involved in basketball:

I asked my mom why she didn’t take me to the
basketball schoos, hockey was Sergei’s idea.

On Team Canada:

We watched their games while we were in Sydney and
they’re a great team that plays with a lot of
enthusiasm. But We’ll be able to handle them, we’ll
see who’s better.

On Team Russia:

We have a very good team with a lot of unity in the
dressing room. There is a lot of talent and it is a
great team environment.

On a gold medal finish:

Everyone on the team came here to win the gold medal.
The rest of the plan is a secret.

On coming to North America to play junior hockey:

I am not even thinking about it. It is not something
that I want to do.

On when his decision to become an athlete:

My mother knew I was an athlete when I wanted to go up
ten flights of stairs to my apartment instead of
taking the stairs (laughs).

On comparisons to Ilya Kovalchuk:

Ilya Kovalchuk was the best junior player in Russia
and has proven himself. I have yet to get there so
this is hard to say. It depends on my own game and my

On Canadian fans:

I am amazed at their love for the game.

On the exposure the World Juniors get in Russia:

They are on tv and just as big as in Canada. I am in
touch with my mother and she watches it in Russia.

On his limited playing time and defeat against Team
USA in the World Under-18 Championships:

We got down two to nothing. When they scored against
us in the last minute it was very disappointing for
the team. A disappointing experience.

Note: Some questions were asked in a press conference setting