Tag-Archive for ◊ alexander ovechkin ◊

16 Feb 2011 NHL All Stars Burn Up the Red Carpet

The NHL All Star Game is the perfect time for fans to get a glimpse of some of their favorite players up close. We hope you will enjoy these pictures, shot from the red carpet deep in the heart of Hurricane country.

Photos: All images by Wendy Bullard.  Copyright 2011.  All Rights Reserved.

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05 Sep 2010 Kovy Takes on Ovie in Charity Game

Kovalchuk and Ovechkin

Kovalchuk and Ovechkin at the game.

Russian hockey stars Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Ovechkin organized a charity game “With all the heart” in Moscow’s Sokolniki Arena. All the money will be sent to people who suffered from the recent forest and other fires in Russia. The original idea belonged to Ilya.

Many famous current and former players took part in the Ovie vs Kovy game including: Evgeni Malkin, Nikolai Zherdev, Slava Kozlov, Alexei Kasatonov, Slava Fetisov, Alexander Kharlamov, and Dominik Hasek. Many top Kremlin officials, KHL President Alexander Medvedev and various celebrities were in attendance.

Kovalchuk and Ovechkin invited their first coaches to participate in the game as managers.

After the game Kovalchuk admitted that it had been a pleasure for him to play at Sokolniki — at his home arena (where HC Spartak Moscow plays). He also said he and his family had suffered from the Moscow smog. For those who haven’t heard, the city of Moscow and its surrounding areas were recently blanketed in smoke from fires burning near the city, as the Russian capital endured extraordinarily high summer temperatures.

Ovechkin said that such charity activities should be developed in Russia. He added that he had been in the Moscow smog, too.

Former Atlanta Thrasher Slava Kozlov admitted he hadn’t defined his future career yet. He asked not to link his visit to Russia with contract talks — his purpose there was to visit his parents. Kozlov also said that the New Jersey Devils didn’t call him — only Kovalchuk asked him to join.

Here’s a video from the show which ended 13:13.

And here are photos from the Russian media and various open sources

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22 Jul 2010 What’s Happening to My Avs?

Not even Alexander Ovechkin could help fill the Pepsi Center last season

Today I saw a car with an Avs flag flying at half-mast.  I’m sure it wasn’t intentional, but it was rather fitting.  Yes, many Avalanche fans are in mourning for our team.

Why, you might ask?

Well, while the rest of you were getting excited about prospect camp, taking pictures and watching the final scrimmage, us Avalanche fans were sitting quietly at home twiddling our thumbs.  While you were anxiously watching the news wire for free agent signings by your team, we were napping.  And while you were being wooed to renew or buy more season tickets, we were already making plans as to how we would spend the money that we used to spend on season tickets, our phones silent as no one from the organization even called to ask why we didn’t renew this year.

Yep. The Avalanche organization has simply stopped caring.  How, you ask?  Let me count the ways.

First, there’s the development camp.  Apparently, according to the organization, the team had an “off-ice orientation” for the prospects.  Excuse me, but has anyone ever heard of such an “orientation” before?  An orientation where they ask all their prospects to interrupt their off-season training to come hang out for a few days and get “oriented” without stepping on the ice once?  How stupid does the organization think we really are?  If I were a betting woman, I’d say that we were being lied to, and that the Avs were having a development camp that is closed to the public and hence hush hush.  Of course there is the slight possibility that they really were having just an off-ice orientation, in which case they really have thrown in the towel.  Yes, while teams like the Caps, and even the God-awful Islanders were pulling in fans by the thousands we Avs fans could only read about other team’s camps with envy.

But wait!  That’s not all!  No, not only do you get a team who doesn’t take advantage of a great marketing opportunity, but you get a team that shows no interest in improving next year.  That’s right, folks.  No free agent signings, no help for a goalie who got the team to the playoffs almost completely on his own and no new, talented players for the fans to go watch.  In fact, the Avs have done so little that they actually haven’t even reached the cap floor!  The organization claims they’re “building from within” like the Red Wings, but let me tell you I’ve seen what’s coming up in the system and we have no Datsyuk or Zetterberg in our system to build around.  Hmm.  Maybe that’s why they didn’t have a camp.  They didn’t want the fans to see what kind of talent we really did (or didn’t) have.

Unfriendly policies have discouraged fans from attending Avalanche games.

Finally, you’ve all heard me bitching about the treatment of season ticket holders but it begs repeating – those of us that have cancelled our season ticket haven’t gotten so much as a simple call asking us why or to reconsider.   Perhaps it’s because it was seen as a waste of resources, or perhaps it’s because they just don’t care.

Of course, if this were Phoenix or another small-market, you might suspect that the organization was in financial trouble and just couldn’t afford the marketing, but alas, Kroenke Entertainment has more investments than you can shake a stick at, including the NFL Rams, Arsenal, Nuggets, a soccer stadium, a new ticket agency and whatever else I might be missing.  Doesn’t look like struggling ownership to me.

Which leads me back to my original hypothesis:  That the organization just doesn’t care.  And if that’s the case, why should we fans?

I suppose it’s too early to say R.I.P., but I’ll say it anyway.  Maybe the team will survive, or maybe it will be sold and shipped off to Winnipeg.  Stranger things have happened.

Photos:  Alexander Ovechkin and Pepsi Center by Goddess Sasha. 2009-2010.  All rights reserved.

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22 May 2010 They’re (Not Always) Coming to America
Alex Ovechkin

Russian Alexander Ovechkin is one of the NHL

While perusing the web yesterday I came across an article at Bleacher Report by a “Featured Columnist” that I just couldn’t ignore.  The claim was that Russia is no longer producing quality hockey players.  The author’s proof?  There are very few Russians and even fewer Russian superstars in the National Hockey League.    He supports this claim with a superficial glance at recent NHL draft history, and the fact that Russians aren’t being highly drafted, if at all.

And I thought only First Nations hockey players were victims of such bigoted and irresponsible “journalism.”  Pretty shallow reporting from someone who has written for NHL.com and other big online sites.

Anyone who follows the NHL, the draft and developing talent is well aware of the shift in the paradigm in international talent.  The talent in Russia is obviously still there.  Newer players such as Alexander Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Semin are clear examples of the type of talent the Motherland is still producing.

So why are there fewer Russians in the NHL? The answer is simple:  The Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).  Unfortunately, the author tries to deflect any attention from the KHL by saying that he doesn’t want to hear that there is talent in the KHL, because it’s not the NHL, the best league in the world.  This superficial claim insults the intelligence of knowledgeable hockey devotees and only serves to feed the xenophobia of lay hockey fans — something that does not behoove a sport that is trying to grow its popularity in the United States.

Dmitry Kulikov

Russian-born Dmitry Kulikov, a first round pick of the Florida Panthers, plays in the NHL.

To refute these claims, one doesn’t have to look too far into the dynamics between the KHL and NHL.  The KHL may not be quite NHL caliber (as I discussed last month in another HockeyGoddess.com exclusive) but the money is, and that has kept many a Russian NHL prospect at home.  Why leave the comfortable confines of your homeland, where your dollar goes further, you don’t have to worry about learning a language you have zero knowledge of and your chances of getting hurt are a fraction of what they would be in North America?

Similarly, if you are an NHL general manager drafting talented hockey players why take a chance on a guy who might look at his options: To scratch and claw in the AHL for a couple and make a whole lot less money, or to stay home and have a higher salary?  Why squander a high-round pick on a player who may never come play in North America? (Ever hear of Ilya Nikulin, a highly touted defensive prospect who was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers?  Didn’t think so.) Even some of the young kids who have come and played Junior hockey in North America, claiming the NHL is their end goal, have bolted back to the KHL after being sent down to the minors.  And really, I can’t completely fault them for that decision.

Remember, Russia is no longer the Soviet Union.  Top talent doesn’t have to defect to America to make their millions — they can do it at home.  While the standard of living in most of Russia is still well behind North America, it’s a familiar and stable culture.  Why not stay there?

Of course, we have seen some financial difficulty in recent times in Russia, with teams folding or merging under the stress of the international economic crisis.  We’ve heard rumors of some teams unable to pay their players.  This all may contribute to an increase in Russian talent in the NHL.  And while I wish the best for the Russians, I secretly hope to see more of them here in North America.  We have large Russian-speaking communities, a great standard of living, health care that far exceeds the level in the former Soviet states and a fair system to live under.  So you may not be a big fish in a little pond, but you’ll have a chance to prove you’re one of the best hockey players in the world.

Photos: Alexander Ovechkin and Dmitry Kulikov by Goddess Sasha. Copyright 2009-2010. All Rights Reserved.

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17 May 2010 Smokin’ Semin Has Team Russia Under Fire

Alexander Semin

The Russian press caught Caps LW Alexander Semin enjoying a smoke.

The Russian tabloids went crazy this week after several members of the Russian national hockey team were captured on film smoking outside a restaurant in Germany at the World Championships – the most familiar being Alexander Semin of the Washington Capitals.  Other “guilty” parties shown in the video are Ilya Nikulin, whose rights belong to the Atlanta Thrashers, and 2002 NHL draftees Sergei Mozyakin (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Vitaly Atyushov (Ottawa Senators).  Late in the video one can also see soon-to-be UFA Ilya Kovalchuk hanging out with the naughty smokers and acting a little “off” while being escorted into a waiting car.

It seems ironic that in a country where just about everyone smokes that something like this would spark such controversy and outrage.  Or not.

During Soviet times, Russia took its athletes’ development very seriously.  Hockey players were closely monitored and were strictly forbidden from smoking and drinking.   Athletes were highly revered and their jobs were taken very seriously.  They were seen as more than just mere mortals, having an amazing ability and will to resist outside distractions.  After all, they were living representations of the Soviet ideal. Most of the players from that era still maintain a strict policy of abstinence when it comes to tobacco and alcohol.

Of course, there are always the exceptions.  We’ve all heard the stories about Sergei Zubov smoking in the showers between periods or Nikolai Khabibulin having a clause written in his contract allowing him to smoke, but the majority of the old-school players didn’t and still don’t.

Alexander Semin, left, lights up with his Russian teammates.

Yet in the new Russia things are different.  While players are still closely watched by their teams, attitudes definitely seem to have relaxed in many areas.  Smoking, it turns out, is one of them.  A current KHL player told us it’s the nature of being a hockey player:  You either smoke or dip (chewing tobacco).  In Russia, smoking is definitely the mode of choice.  Still, hockey is one of the most popular sports in Russia, with world competitions being big news.  So much so that in response to the media frenzy, the team has decided to boycott the press, a move which, of course, has created even more controversy in the Motherland.

Yet to be fair, we have to mention that smoking and chewing is also part of the scene in the NHL, the minor leagues and college in North America.  Don’t let the media fool you.  It may be more hidden these days, but believe me, it’s quite pervasive –- especially chewing tobacco — at just about every level.  Even superstar Alex Ovechkin has been known to indulge in a little bit of snuff.

While the Russian population is shocked, North American fans seem to be saying “big deal” (although I wonder what the reaction in Canada would be if, say, Sidney Crosby was caught doing either). Here, we have to shake our heads at the stupidity, naivete or audacity of these players: Standing outside a restaurant smoking in full view of the public practically begging someone to bust them; and then give a little chuckle when they boycott the media for daring to report it when someone catches them red handed.

Poll-o-Rama: What Do You Think?



Talk Back!
What do you think? Much ado about nothing? Or something worth talking about? Leave a comment and tell us what YOU think!

Photos: From LifeSports.ru.

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16 Mar 2009 Avery, Ovechkin and Other NHL Muzzlings.

Yesterday, Sean Avery scored 2 goals and received 1st star of the game.  He also had 5 hits, and a goalie interference penalty.  Clearly, the Rangers are as good for Avery as he is for them.  Has he “rehabbed?”  One can only hope not too much.  His personality is part of what makes him the player he is.  And in a sport that his struggling for US viewership, is his controversial personality really *that* bad of a thing?

But it doesn’t stop at Avery.  Last night’s Coaches Corner’s Don Cherry effused at the fact that Ovechkin has toned down his over-exuberant goal celebrations (all the while taking credit for being the one leading to it after his anti-Ovechkin-celebration Coaches Corner a couple of weeks back).   While many of us think there is an awful lot of Ovechkin Overload going on right now, to muzzle him and his celebrations is detrimental to the game.  HIs celebrations (of not just his goals, but of teammates as well) get the rest of the team excited, which in turn gets the crowd excited and creates new hockey fans that happen to see what kind of excitement hockey can bring.

Ilya Kovalchuk pointing at Sidney Crosby in the penalty box after scoring a power-play goal a couple years back was pricesless, as was Slava Kozlov chirping at Ulf Sammuelson after scoring a shootout goal against Phoenix, sending coach Wayne Gretzky into fits of rage.  Let’s face it.  American’s like drama.  We like scandal. The world would be a boring place if we just all got along and sent each other flowers after hockey games.

Now I know some hockey elitists are going to argue that such celebrations and taunting are the “gateway drug” to further misbehavior such as illegal gun-toting and off-ice violence (and yes, I have heard this argument many times) and that hockey will lose it’s appeal to the intellectuals who can look past the fighting and actually enjoy the game.  I argue that competitive sports bring out primitive instincts in people, and we really should be worrying more about ridding the game of head shots, cheap shots and abusive stick fouls rather than who said what about whose girlfriend and what the appropriate level of celebration of a goal is.

On a personal note, I played in my own high-level, intensity filled game.  A rivalry quickly developed between two former Division I NCAA players.  A bit of smack talking on the ice led to a penalty and one of my teammates scoring and immediately skating by the other teams bench, mocking them and the penalty.  The fans were soon in an uproar, and the opposing coach nearly blew a gasket.  The rest of the game was nasty, but never lost it’s intensity and we won by a single-goal margin.  Let me tell you, nothing compares to the energy that brings.  No harm, no foul.



04 Mar 2009 Hockey Drama – Nothing Like It!

Yes, the trade deadline is upon us. By this time tomorrow we will see many teams completely changed. While we all are going to have a few “they did what?” moments about our favorite team, and some of us are going to shed a tear for our non-playoff contenders who will inevitably been blown apart, but I have to admit, I still love the excitement trade deadline brings.

If we’re talking about drama, we can’t ignore that the Drama Queen himself is back in the league.  Am I the only one that is actually glad to see Avery back?  I hope they haven’t beaten the personality out of him. Does he go too far sometimes? Perhaps. But I do enjoy a bit of drama he brings to the squeaky-clean NHL. What will be more interesting is to see how John Tortorella, who said Avery shouldn’t be allowed to play in the NH after his incident in December, handles him.

Speaking of hockey drama, I am digging Ovechkin and Crosby’s little tiff. People around the league are picking sides, with no clear-cut majority. A little rivalry never hurt anyone, in my opinion. Don Cherry? I agree with you many, many times, but I have to side with Bruce Bourdreau on this one. You’re just wrong. Let the guys celebrate. Let them have fun. Give the American fans the excitement they want. It is about entertainment after all, isn’t it?



30 Jan 2009 Hey Now, You’re An All Star

Does anyone else remember the good ol’ days of the All-Star weekend when it was eagerly awaited?  In an attempt to make the game better with more parity and greater fan appeal, the game is tweaked each year.  Yet it seemingly only appears to continue to lose its luster. With that in mind, I have some of my own suggestions.

  - Let the players choose the participants.  Who knows the talent better than those who play against these guys?  GMs picking the roster?   Seriously, guys.  It’s gone downhill since they switched the selection process.  Yes, I know why it was done, but it probably wasn’t the best solution.

 - Allow competitors into the skills competition that may not make the All-Star team.  We know there are exceptional skaters, stick handlers and shooters that don’t always make the squad.  Let’s see more talent represented there.  That might woo audiences a bit more.

-  Speaking of wooing audiences, can we get rid of the lame breakaway goal competition?  It was a big flop, in my opinion.  Trying (largely unsuccessful) trick shots on non-NHL goalies did nothing for me.  Of course, Alexander Ovechkin did bring some character to the game with his silly props and use of long-time enemy Evgeny Malkin to assist him (although I found the actual story behind the “make-up” of these two much more interesting.)  However, call me old fashioned but I preferred the class that fellow Russian Alexei Kovalev displayed in the All-Star game the next day, taking the game seriously, giving it his all and showing the fans what a fantastic stick-handler he is.  So, let’s bring back skill competitions where real skills are highlighted.

 - Finally, as we move back towards more intra-conference play, let’s resurrect the North America vs. The Word format.  East-West has little intrigue to most people, but pitting the two different playing styles against each other gets Don Cherry and others ranting about the non-North American players and at least resurrects a real rivalry.

So what do you say guys?  You have two years to think about it.



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